Camouflage is one of those old skills that has remained relevant in the modern battle space. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are known for having unique solutions for concealment from either humans or sensors in hostile environments. These capabilities are a result of a unique mindset mixed with mission necessity and creativity.
I’ve spent most of my career in the IDF within the SR team, and my specialty was camouflage – not just camouflage in the term of ghillie suit or face paints – but way beyond. We used to hide tanks, GMVs, or entire teams from The human eye and advanced devices as well.
I had this unique chance to visit one of Fibrotex’s Camouflage workshops as a participant observer. The workshop, which took place in Germany this spring. The primary objective behind the workshop was to expose its participants to the modern exposure factors, which are constantly improving and changing. Fibrotex full multi-spectral systems: UV (Ultraviolet), VIS (Visual), NIR (Near Infrared), SWIR (Short Wave Infrared), Thermal & RADAR, provide the ultimate solutions required in the hours of need for any platform existing in the market from aircraft and helicopters through tanks and APCs to teams and personnel camouflage systems. In addition, during my service in the IDF I had the chance to visit their own in-house production line. Fibrotex has the unique capabilities to custom make all of their products for any existing known terrain, per any requirement, which proved a serious advantage for the Israeli SOF community. Literally when we had problems, or need, we could contact and consult with Fibrotex.
The workshop attendees came from different nationalities across Europe. Most of them were active SF or other organizations alike. As an observer from the side, I could hear the wake up call that the workshop triggered among its participants: above all the realization that they are not safe, and that the enemy have other ways to view the terrain beyond just the human eye.
The worst enemy of any military fighting force is exposure. For decades any respected military organization dedicated major parts of its basic training to the importance of understanding what field exposure is all about, from both topographical and visual points of view. Over the years, technology has advanced and so have capabilities. Even the Taliban uses thermals or NVD’s to certain level, the very same goes to ISIS which eventually means that while we are trained and taught how to avoid visual exposure (a little dogma) the enemy adapted and upgraded its technological capabilities.
An important part of the workshop was the optics familiarization of which several types of new imagery devices were presented for the personnel. From thermals to NVD’s, from binoculars to monocles – the participants had a chance to understand what kind of hardware is out there (beyond what they are issued) and its technological progress, as well as of what kind of imagery those devices produce.
As they say: knowing is half of the battle.
The highlight of the workshop was the spotting drills. Those drills were carried out during day & night, stretching FIBROTEX’s capabilities to the limit. In those drills, FIBROTEX positioned several of its products within visual range of the spotting party. If I recall correctly, the distances were from 200m to 700m away. Then with the use of several devices, the participants had to search, assess, and mark any possible finds on their topographical maps. Given the fact that Fibrotex personnel were all former SF – it was quite a competition. During the night drills I had the chance to join my friends from Israel and use the sniper tent, which wasn’t detected from 700m by any thermal or NVD. The spotting games were quite fun, but also an opportunity to witness how well those concealment solutions work not only visually, but in other light spectrums as well.
Here is some of the equipment we had a chance to play with during the workshop. While most of this equipment I’m familiar with, it struck me again how relevant camouflage is, even in the modern battle space.
The Observation Post – or OP – is one of my favorite products, and by far the one that we used the most during my service in the IDF. The OP allows you to setup within minutes a solid hideout that is not only visually unseen (given you know how) but also protective against all known sensor threats including: UV, Visual, Near-IR, Thermal and Radar (Multi Spectral protection). In addition, the OP still allows you to remain operational under its construction, meaning that any use of optics as well as weaponry is not limited. You could easily build it, and it fits up to six individuals with full equipment.
Kit Mobile was also quite a cool solution that offers a mobile modular camouflage solution. In the workshop the guys managed to hide it within 600 meters of the spotters, and it took a little bit of time to find the bulky Land-Rover. The mobile kit comes with a fully integrated modular system that is tailor made for the vehicle and allows it to be completely concealed from any existing device in the market today (both military and civilian) including the SWIR threat. The system could be partially or fully used depending on the threat and allows urgent extraction without having the fear of leaving any part of the system in the field. Here are some pictures.
Concealment suits also made a little of their own show. For the record, Fibrotex Suits are far more than just ghillie suits or a colorful blanket. With quite a lightweight design, comfortable use and VIS – NIR as well as fire retardant capabilities, their suits were a big hit in the IDF. Describing its features to the fullest..will take a while, so enjoy the pictures below.
If you were a sniper, you’re going to love this one. In short, the Sniper Tent is more than a tent – it is a working space. That working space is easy to set up, light-weight to carry, and even easier to disassemble. The tent has multi spectral concealment – UV, Visual, NIR, Thermal-IR, as well as a reversible camo. All in all…the tent is truly a remarkable user friendly concealment solution that can deal with modern imagery quite well.
Knowing the threat is important. Recognizing how it changes – is vital. That’s what FIBROTEX’s workshop was all about. I personally enjoyed seeing different western units gathering up and working together for one unified goal – to protect while remaining proactive.