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Individual Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys

Each soldier is responsible for camouflaging himself, his equipment, and his position.

Each soldier is responsible for camouflaging himself, his equipment, and his position. CCD reduces the probability of an enemy placing aimed fire on a soldier.


Use natural and artificial materials for CCD. Natural CCD includes defilade, grass, bushes, trees, and shadows. Artificial CCD for soldiers includes BDUs, camouflage nets, skin paint, and natural materials removed from their original positions. To be effective, artificial CCD must blend with the natural background.


Noise, movement, and light discipline contribute to individual CCD:

  • Noise discipline muffles and eliminates sounds made by soldiers and their equipment.
  • Movement discipline minimizes movement within and between positions and limits movement to routes that cannot be readily observed by an enemy.
  • Light discipline controls the use of lights at night. Avoid open fires, do not smoke tobacco in the open, and do not walk around with a lit flashlight.


Dispersal is the deliberate deployment of soldiers and equipment over a wide area. It is a key individual survival technique. Dispersal creates a smaller target mass for enemy sensors and weapons systems. Therefore, it reduces casualties and losses in the event of an attack and also makes enemy detection efforts more difficult.


Every soldier should have a detailed understanding of the recognition factors described in Chapter 3 of FM 20-3. While all of these factors remain important when applying individual CCD, the following factors are critical:

  • Movement. Movement draws attention, whether it involves vehicles on the road or individuals walking around positions. The naked eye, IR, and radar sensors can detect movement. Minimize movement while in the open and remember that darkness does not prevent observation by an enemy equipped with modern sensors. When movement is necessary, slow, smooth movement attracts less attention than quick, irregular movement.
  • Shape. Use CCD materials to break up the shapes and shadows of positions and equipment. Stay in the shadows whenever possible, especially when moving, because shadows can visually mask objects. When conducting operations close to an enemy, disguise or distort helmet and body shapes with artificial CCD materials because an enemy can easily recognize them at close range.
  • Shine and light. Shine can also attract attention. Pay particular attention to light reflecting from smooth or polished surfaces (mess kits, mirrors, eyeglasses, watches, windshields, starched uniforms). Plastic map cases, dust goggles worn on top of a helmet, and clear plastic garbage bags also reflect light. Cover these items or remove them from exposed areas. Vehicle headlights, taillights, and safety reflectors not only reflect light but also reflect laser energy used in weapon systems. Cover this equipment when the vehicle is not in operation.

    Red filters on vehicle dome lights and flashlights, while designed to protect a soldier’s night vision, are extremely sensitive to detection by NVDs. A tank’s red dome light, reflecting off the walls and out through the sight and vision blocks, can be seen with a starlight scope from 4 kilometers. Red-lensed flashlights and lit cigarettes and pipes are equally observable. To reduce the chances of detection, replace red filters with blue-green filters and practice strict light discipline. Use measures to prevent shine at night because moonlight and starlight can be reflected as easily as sunlight.

  • Color. The contrast of skin, uniforms, and equipment with the background helps an enemy detect OPFOR. Individual CCD should blend with the surroundings; or at a minimum, objects must not contrast with the background. Ideally, blend colors with the background or hide objects with contrasting colors.


Study nearby terrain and vegetation before applying CCD to soldiers, equipment, or the fighting position. During recon, analyze the terrain in lieu of the CCD considerations listed above and then choose CCD materials that best blend with the area. Change CCD as required when moving from one area to another.


Exposed skin reflects light and may draw attention. Even very dark skin, because of natural oils, will reflect light. CCD paint sticks cover these oils and help blend skin with the background. Avoid using oils or insect repellent to soften the paint stick because doing so makes skin shiny and defeats the purpose of CCD paint. Soldiers applying CCD paint should work in pairs and help each other. Self-application may leave gaps, such as behind ears. Use the following technique:

  • Paint high, shiny areas (forehead, cheekbones, nose, ears, chin) with a dark color.
  • Paint low, shadow areas with a light color.
  • Paint exposed skin (back of neck, arms, hands) with an irregular pattern.

When CCD paint sticks are unavailable, use field expedients such as burnt cork, bark, charcoal, lampblack, or mud. Mud contains bacteria, some of which is harmful and may cause disease or infection, so consider mud as the last resource for individual CCD field-expedient paint.


BDUs have a CCD pattern but often require additional CCD, especially in operations occurring very close to the enemy. Attach leaves, grass, small branches, or pieces of LCSS to uniforms and helmets. These items help distort the shape of a soldier, and they blend with the natural background. BDUs provide visual and NIR CCD. Do not starch BDUs because starching counters the IR properties of the dyes. Replace excessively faded and worn BDUs because they lose their CCD effectiveness as they wear.


Inspect personal equipment to ensure that shiny items are covered or removed. Take corrective action on items that rattle or make other noises when moved or worn. Soldiers assigned equipment, such as vehicles or generators, should be knowledgeable of their appropriate camouflage techniques.

Individual Fighting Positions:

While building a fighting position, camouflage it and carefully dispose of earth spoil. Remember that too much CCD material applied to a position can actually have a reverse effect and disclose the position to the enemy. Obtain CCD materials from a dispersed area to avoid drawing attention to the position by the stripped area around it.

Camouflage a position as it is being built. To avoid disclosing a fighting position, never:

  • Leave shiny or light-colored objects exposed.
  • Remove shirts while in the open.
  • Use fires.
  • Leave tracks or other signs of movement.
  • Look up when aircraft fly overhead. (One of the most obvious features on aerial photographs is the upturned faces of soldiers.)

When CCD is complete, inspect the position from an enemy’s viewpoint. Check CCD periodically to see that it stays natural-looking and conceals the position. When CCD materials become ineffective, change or improve them.


Reference FM 20-3 Camouflage, Concealment and Decoys

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