The Combat Chameleon: A Rare Glimpse at the IDF’s Camouflage Experts

We take you for a rare glimpse into the work of the IDF’s Chameleon Company – the Central Command’s target information unit – to find out what it takes to hide six soldiers in a surveillance outpost for five days, undetected by the enemy.

It looks like a rock, it feels like a rock, it even smells like a rock – safe to assume that its a rock. But no, it is the IDF Combat Intelligence’s Chameleon Company. The soldiers from this elite unit specialize in combat camouflage – the art of disappearing into the surroundings and becoming invisible to the hostile eye.

The company’s squads are deployed at various points throughout the Central Command where they perform a diverse range of intelligence gathering missions, keeping track of groups and individuals seeking to attack Israelis. Terrorist threats against Israeli citizens are incessant. The work of the Combat Intelligence Corps in monitoring and preventing these threats is a vital part of Israel’s national security.

“The observations are conducted after carrying heavy equipment on foot for up to ten kilometers, in open and urban terrain in hostile territory,” Company Commander Major Nadav explained. “The fighters are equipped with advanced surveillance equipment, and conduct observations from inside a very small observation post. A squad can be out in the field for between 72 and 120 hours, and in certain circumstances, even more.”

Chameleon soldiers travel many kilometers on foot with their advanced equipment

Chameleon soldiers travel many kilometers on foot with their advanced equipment.

Each of the company’s fighters specializes in a specific area: there are builders who construct the observation post, photographers who collect visual intelligence, communications experts and  navigators.

“The role of the navigator is among the most important in the squad, because he needs to bring the squad to the place that it needs to get to,” explained Lieutenant Itai, a commander in the unit. “The challenge is to bring the squad to the place in as straightforward and safe a manner as possible, without exposing them to the enemy.”

IDF Combat Intelligence Soldiers

Hiding the observation post from the enemy is a key aspect of combat intelligence. “After completing the construction of the initial outpost we move on to the camouflage aspect, which includes using netting and such,” explained Staff Sergeant Daniel, the squad’s camouflage expert. “When the outpost is ready we add more netting and foliage to the outside until its impossible to determine what it is.”

Once the outpost is hidden and ready, the squad’s soldiers will hunker down and do what they do best: keeping Israelis safe.

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