Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 5-3 – Camouflage

Camouflage is anything you use to keep yourself, your equipment, and your position from being identified. Both natural and man-made material can be used for camouflage. Change and improve your camouflage often. The time between changes and improvements depends on the weather and on the material used. Natural camouflage will often die, fade, or otherwise lose its effectiveness. Likewise, man-made camouflage may wear off or fade and, as a result, Soldiers, their equipment, and their positions may stand out from their surroundings. To make it difficult for the enemy to spot them, Soldiers should remember the following when using or wearing camouflage. (Chapter 6 discusses techniques for camouflaging fighting positions.):


5-8. Movement and activity draw attention. When you give arm-and-hand signals or walk about your position, your movement can be seen by the naked eye at long ranges. In the defense, stay low. Move only when necessary. In the offense, move only on covered and concealed routes.


5-9. Avoid putting anything where the enemy expects to find it. Build positions on the side of a hill, away from road junctions or lone buildings, and in covered and concealed places. Avoid open areas.


5-10. These can reveal your position or equipment to an air or ground observer. Break up outlines and shadows with camouflage. When moving, try to stay in the shadows.


5-11. A shine will naturally attract the enemy’s attention. In the dark, a burning cigarette or flashlight will give you away. In daylight, reflected light from any polished surface such as shiny mess gear, a worn helmet, a windshield, a watch crystal and band, or exposed skin will do it. Any light, or reflection of light, can help the enemy detect your position. To reduce shine, cover your skin with clothing and face paint. Dull equipment and vehicle surfaces with paint, mud, or other camouflaging material or substance.


In a nuclear attack, darkly painted skin can absorb more thermal energy and may burn more readily than bare skin.


5-12. Certain shapes, such as a helmet or human being, are easily recognizable. Camouflage, conceal, and break up familiar shapes to make them blend in with their surroundings, but avoid overdoing it.


5-13. If your skin, uniform, or equipment colors stand out against the background, the enemy can obviously detect you more easily than he could otherwise. For example, ACUs stand out against a backdrop of snow-covered terrain. Once again, camouflage yourself and your equipment to blend with the surroundings (Figure 5-7).


5-14. This means spreading Soldiers, vehicles, and equipment over a wide area. The enemy can detect a bunch of Soldiers more easily than they can detect a lone Soldier. Spread out. Unit SOP or unit leaders vary distances between you and your fellow Soldiers depending on the terrain, degree of visibility, and enemy situation.


5-15. Before camouflaging, study the terrain and vegetation of the area in which you are operating. Next, pick and use the camouflage material that best blends with the area (Figures 5-8). When moving from one area to another, change camouflage as needed to blend with the surroundings. Take grass, leaves, brush, and other material from your location and apply it to your uniform and equipment, and put face paint on your skin.



5-16. Camouflage your helmet with the issue helmet cover or make a cover of cloth or burlap that is colored to blend with the terrain (Figure 5-9). Leaves, grass, or sticks can also be attached to the cover. Use camouflage bands, strings, burlap strips, or rubber bands to hold those in place. If you have no material for a helmet cover, disguise and dull helmet surface with irregular patterns of paint or mud.


5-17. The ACU has a jacket, trousers, and patrol cap in a new universal camouflage pattern. However, it may be necessary to add more camouflage to make the uniform blend better with the surroundings. To do this, put mud on the uniform or attach leaves, grass, or small branches to it. Too much camouflage, however, may draw attention. When operating on snow-covered ground wear overwhites (if issued) to help blend with the snow. If overwhites are not issued, use white cloth, such as white bed sheets, to get the same effect.


5-18. Exposed skin reflects light and may draw the enemy’s attention. Even very dark skin, because of its natural oil, will reflect light. The advanced camouflage face paint in compact form comes both with and without insect repellent. The active ingredient of the repellant is N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (commonly known as DEET). The camouflage face paint provides visual and near-IR camouflage protection. The version with DEET also repels insects for eight hours. Both are furnished in compact form, and contain a full-sized, unbreakable, stainless steel mirror. Both compacts contain five compartments of pigmented formulations (green, loam, sand, white, and black). The compacts provide sufficient material for 20 applications of green, loam, and sand, and 10 applications of black and white. The compact is suitable for multi-terrain environmental conditions from arctic to desert. Face paints with insect repellent are supplied in a tan colored compact, while the non-repellent face paints are furnished in an olive drab compact for quick identification (Figure 5-10). When applying camouflage to your skin, work with a buddy (in pairs) and help each other. Apply a two-color combination of camouflage pigment in an irregular pattern. Do not apply camouflage paint if there is a chance of frostbite. The pigment may prevent other Soldiers from recognizing the whitish discoloration, the first symptoms of the skin freezing.

Note: Advanced camouflage face paint with insect repellent, national stock number (NSN) 6840-01-493-7334, or without insect repellent, NSN 6850-01-493-7309.

5-19. Paint shiny areas (forehead, cheekbones, nose, ears, and chin) with a dark color. Paint shadow areas (around the eyes, under the nose, and under the chin) with a light color. In addition to the face, paint the exposed skin on the back of the neck, arms, and hands. Palms of hands are not normally camouflaged if arm-and-hand signals are to be used. Remove all jewelry to further reduce shine or reflection. When camouflage sticks/compacts are not issued, use burnt cork, bark, charcoal, lamp black, or light-colored mud (Table 5-1).

Table 5-1. Application of camouflage face paint to skin.

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