For our soldiers, dressing up is more than just fun and play. After the Second Lebanon War, the IDF reached the conclusion that that all soldiers, not just those from the elite units, should incorporate camouflage into their training. “The Second Lebanon War was 33 days long. That’s a long time,” explained Lieutenant Sagiv Kehila, Deputy Commander of the Guerrilla Warfare Center. “We don’t want our forces to be exposed, so as to reduce the threat of the enemy striking. The best way to ensure this is for them to learn camouflage.”
Today, all IDF combat soldiers participate in a three-week course that teaches them everything they need to know about camouflage and how to use nature to optimum effect: how to turn trees and stones in the battlefield into hiding spots, how to spot the perfect tree and how to pay attention to the most minute detail. They apply elaborate war-paint to their faces, hands, necks and chests. Every minor mistake in creating a camouflaged position can lead to discovery.
“Every type of terrain is different.” said Lt. Kehila, “Camouflage in southern Israel is different to camouflage in northern Israel. The color of ground is each area is distinctive, there are different kinds of trees and shrubs. The soldiers have to know how to blend into any environment.”
The 7th Reconnaissance Company’s newest recruits were tested on camouflage in the concluding exercise of their training. “Every morning, before sunrise, the soldiers had to be well hidden using the camouflage techniques they had learned throughout their training,” explained the company’s training commander Lieutenant Yair Zald. “If we managed to find the teams, it meant that they had failed at their task.”
The 7th Reconnaissance Company is part of the Armored Corps, and its soldiers are responsible for performing operational activities that cannot be achieved by tanks. They patrol the area before the tanks, collect intelligence, build observation posts and help locate wanted persons. “In recent years, the battlefield has changed. Our enemy hides underground and fires at us from densely populated areas. Our goal is not to shoot even one bullet,” explained Lieutenant Zald, “This is possible only if we are not seen by the enemy.”
Camouflage is about more than just designing uniforms. It is a military strategy, and is a critical skill in modern day combat.
This article has been reprinted with the permission of the IDF Blog.