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The Fundamentals of Tactical Camouflage

Jul 25, 2008
Camouflage is a difficult subject in the arena of tactical gear. There are so many varied operational situations today, it's difficult to match your equipment to the surroundings, much less the varied surroundings in the varied urban environment. A single area of operation can contain woodland, concrete, farms, and possibly even snow in higher elevations. There's no shortage of options out there in camouflage patterns, so how do you make a choice?

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

Cryptic Camouflage
Also known as fading into the background noise. This method is best verified in the 'old' military tactical gear with brown, green, and black camouflage patterns. They were meant to match undergrowth, bark, and shadows in the background and break up the silhouette that the human brain is programmed to seek when looking for a 'human form'.

Disruptive Camouflage
This is the exact opposite of cryptic camouflage. The point is to confuse the observers' visual queues such as size and shape. A great example is a thick smoke-screen.

Mimicry Camouflage
This is exactly what it sounds like -- using camouflage 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 rubber tanks and armored vehicles, used for the sole purpose of mimicing the real thing and confusing the enemy. Arguably, another instance would be the ghillie suit, used to make the wearer look like grass and underbrush.

Countershading
The purpose of countershading is to make light areas dark and dark areas light -- just like you're supposed to do when putting camouflage paint on 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 hide 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 (cryptic, disruptive, mimicry, and countershading) and you're half way there to implementing effective concealment and obscurity in your tactical gear.
About the Author
Allen Wright is a freelance writer who follows whatever topics hold his interest. Look here for more information on camouflage and tactical gear.
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