Today

Nuclear Attack Survival Blueprint

Nuclear Attack Survival Blueprint

Get Instant Access

An ancient art moves into the 21st century By J.R. Wilson

Camouflage has been used In ground combat throughout history, but primarily by hunters called to temporary military duty rather than formalized armies, against whom they often were pitted. The earliest forms - such as covering a combatant with dirt, mud, or bits of foliage - are still in use, even by the most technologically advanced militaries. But, as with all other elements of warfare, camouflage also has been and will be heavily affected by new materials and science.

It was not until the 1800s that national armies, initially troops of the British Empire in India and South Africa, began to shed brightly colored battle dress for neutral colors that would make them more difficult targets. But even limited camouflage did not become a semi-regular part of military dress until World War I. In the years between the two great wars, military leaders finally began shedding the millennia-old concept that concealment in combat was "shameful" and started looking for ways to increase warfighter survivability through combat uniforms that did not stand out from their background.

Three of the most influential - and diverse - factors in this effort were American author Gerald Handerson Thayer's 1909 book, Concealing-Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, insights into how humans perceive what they see from early 20th century German Gestalt psychology, and the avant-garde work of cubist and impressionist painters. Combining the three, along with studies of the concealment methods of hunters, American Indians, and other non-European cultures, led to a far different style of battle uniform during World War II.

The online database Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_camouflage_ patterns offers a comprehensive, albeit unofficial, list of some 150 military, police, and related camouflage patterns used by nearly as many nations, most current or during the past two decades, but a few going back as far as World War II. That variety indicates not only local, regional, and allied influences, but demonstrates the seemingly endless search for the perfect way to achieve visual "invisibility" during military operations.

A major shift in camouflage design was developed in the late 1990s for the Canadian military: employing a computer-generated blending of pixels - essentially, square spots of varying size - that formed no specific pattern. An advancement on the basic effort to confuse an observer's brain, variations on that theme were quickly adopted by other nations, especially for post-9/11 operations in Southwest Asia.

Most nations now employ a variety of camouflage patterns, for use in different environments (snow, jungle, desert, urban, etc.) by different groups (army, navy, air

U.S. Army Spc. Jesus B. Fernandez of San Jose, Calif., an assistant team leader with 3rd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, crosses a stream during a unit visit to Angla Kala village in Kunar province, Afghanistan. The two soldiers are wearing the MultiCam camouflage uniforms now being adopted.

U.S. Army Spc. Jesus B. Fernandez of San Jose, Calif., an assistant team leader with 3rd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, crosses a stream during a unit visit to Angla Kala village in Kunar province, Afghanistan. The two soldiers are wearing the MultiCam camouflage uniforms now being adopted.

force, special forces, police, etc.). Some variations may be on the road to reversal, such as the divergence of U.S. Army and Marine Corps designs during the past decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The two may come back together if they see success in recent efforts to develop a new universal pattern, enabling warfighters to wear the same combat fatigues into almost any environment (snow being a primary exception).

Camouflage does not make the wearer "invisible," but tricks an observer's eye and brain into failing to see a clear separation of the edges of the wearer's profile from the colors and shapes around him. As a result, while the eye still sees the camouflaged warfighter, the brain - which processes images by filling in for the small area of color the eye actually sees - is tricked into accepting the pattern as part of the background and not as a person. It is an artificial application of what nature has provided to a wide range of animals and insects, most notably the color-changing capability of chameleon lizards and the ability of some ocean species to change shape as well as color.

For the United States, the newest universal pattern for ground forces is called MultiCam®, a complex blend of seven shades of

A^Rrduniversity

SiRVES MILITARY STUDENTS ANYWHERE H THi WORLD

EARN YOUR ASSOCIATE'S, BACHELOR'S, OR MASTER'S DEGREE ONLINE

• Your Ashford Military Tuition Grant covers all required course materials and you pay only $250 a credit.

• Your military training counts. Transfer up to 99 previously earned credits from prior college/work experiences.

• Technology and application fees are completely waived, a $1,345 savings.

• 5-6 week courses are taken one at a time so you can earn your degree without disrupting your life.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment