The main principle of camouflage is the idea of blending in with your environment, which is usually achieved with camouflage clothing. Until recently, most units in the IDF were not aware of the power and effectiveness of utilizing nature itself as a disguise.
The Second Lebanon War pointed out certain weaknesses in the use of complicated disguises, since in those days they were mostly used by special units. Therefore, two years ago the IDF Anti-Terror School stepped up to the challenge and founded a department to teach all IDF combat units the art of camouflage.
At the beginning it was hard to draw the fighter’s attention to the subject,” says section commander, Sgt Albert Arklov, “but today we are swamped by the unit’s demands. There is a completely different awareness now.”
Soldiers participating in the three-week course learn everything about the optimal exploitation of nature; 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. Every minor mistake in creating a camouflaged position can lead to discovery. The size of the wood, its shape and even the direction in which the leafs project–all of these are crucial factors to creating successful camouflage.
After the trainees gathered half a forest to create their camouflaged position, they now have to apply their elaborate war-paint to their faces, hands, neck and chest. This, too, requires a lot of expertise.
Most of the instructors were in elite units themselves before they became teachers in the Anti-Terror School.
“At the end of the course the students are supposed to leave here with all the necessary knowledge to be the authority in camouflage of their units,” explains Sergeant Noam Polombo. “So we have to know how it’s like in the field, just like them. To train a fighter you need to know what it means to be a fighter.”
“If soldiers did not know to apply what they learned here, their combat level would fall dramatically. Camouflage is a critical skill in combat, which is a huge advantage on the ground. It is the recipe for victory.”