Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tactical Gear | Camouflage

Camouflage is a complicated subject in the arena of tactical gear. There are so many varied operational environments today, it's difficult to match your equipment to the surroundings, much less many surroundings in the varied MOUT environment. A single area of operation can contain woodland, concrete, farmlands, and possibly even snow in higher elevations. There's no shortage of options out there in camouflage patterns, so how do you narrow it down?

Camouflage in Tactical Gear
So let's look at the theory behind camouflage. It all revolves around concealment and obscurity, and knowing who your observers will be. That's right -- when trying to conceal or obscure yourself with your tactical gear, you should be thinking from the observers point of view, not your own. It's all about deception.

Cryptic Camouflage
Also known as fading into the background. This method is best demonstrated in the 'old' military tactical gear with brown, green, and black camouflage patterns. They were meant to match foliage, bark, and shadows in the background and break the outline that the human brain naturally seeks when looking for a 'human shape'.

Disruptive Camouflage
This is the opposite of cryptic camouflage. The purpose is to confuse the observers visual information such as size and shape. A great example is a smoke-screen.

Mimicry Camouflage
This is exactly what it sounds like -- using tactical gear and tactical equipment to look like something else. One famous example would be General George Patton's phantom army during World War II and the Normandy Invasion. It was an entire army of inflatable tanks and attack vehicles, used solely to mimic the real thing and confuse the enemy. Arguably, another example would be the ghillie suit, used to make the wearer look like grass and underbrush.

The purpose of countershading is to make light areas dark and dark areas light -- just like you're supposed to do when applying camouflage paint to your face. This removes depth perception and confuses the observer's senses -- note I said observer again. It's important to think from the point of view of the person you're trying to conceal yourself from. Think Thayer's Law when you're using countershaded tactical gear.

So that's it for the basics of camouflage. Keep these four items in mind and you're half way there to implementing effective concealment and obscurity in your tactical gear.

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