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Hiding In Plain Sight: How Does Camouflage Work?

woodland patterned camo nettingAlthough modern camouflage only started being worn by military personnel during World War II, the impression has been long-lasting. Now, the material is everywhere: hunting supply businesses, army surplus stores -- it's even available for casual wear in big retail chains like Wal-Mart. Its use in military operations and hunting trips proves that the design is successful at helping people blend in with natural environments -- but just how do the mottled greens, grays, browns, and blues serve to conceal a human body in the midst of trees, swamps, and deserts? 

The Science Behind Military Camouflage

Convential camouflage has two basic elements -- color and pattern -- that aid in concealment, though more advanced forms (such as those used in ghillie suits and military camo netting) certainly exist. At its very base, the material is colored with dull hues that match the main colors of the surrounding environment: khaki and brown for deserts, green and brown for forests, and white and gray for snowy climates.


Most camo designs combine these colors in a mottled pattern. Because it is visually disruptive, it can more effectively hide the shape and outline of a body: when you see mottled camouflage in a matching environment, your brain naturally 'connects' the lines of colored blotches with the lines of the trees, leaves, shadows, and ground. Essentially, camouflage takes advantage of the fact that human perception inherently categorizes things in the world as separate objects -- it fools your eyes into seeing more of the same, and therefore harmless, environment.


Disguising Equipment And Structures

Hiding soldiers is of much less importance in modern warfare. Now that aircraft can spot and attack enemy bases and locations from the sky, it's more crucial to be able to disguise any and all physical evidence of your presence. This is why woodland patterned camo netting and desert camo netting are so valuable: they conceal -- and therefore protect -- vehicles, buildings, and any exposed equipment from potential eyes in the sky.


Once you understand how camouflage works, its use becomes infinitely more interesting; even basic woodland patterned camo netting performs a vital role in the protection and enduring safety of our indispensable military.