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Site Selection when incorporating camouflage, concealment and decoys

Explains the factors that govern site selection

Site selection is extremely important because the location of personnel and equipment can eliminate or reduce recognition factors. If a tank is positioned so that it faces probable enemy sensor locations, the thermal signature from its hot engine compartment is minimized. If a vehicle is positioned under foliage, the exhaust will disperse and cool as it rises, reducing its thermal signature and blending it more closely with the background. Placing equipment in defilade (dug-in) positions prevents detection by ground-mounted radar. The following factors govern site selection:


The mission is the most important factor in site selection. A particular site may be excellent from a CCD standpoint, but the site is useful only if the mission is accomplished. If a site is so obvious that the enemy will acquire and engage a target before mission accomplishment, the site was poorly selected to begin with. Survivability is usually a part of most missions, so commanders must first evaluate the worthiness of a site with respect to mission accomplishment and then consider CCD.


Dispersion requirements dictate the size of a site. A site has limited usefulness if it will not permit enough dispersal for survivability and effective operations.

Terrain Patterns:

Every type of terrain, even a flat desert, has a discernible pattern. Terrain features can blur or conceal the signatures of military activity. By using terrain features, CCD effectiveness can be enhanced without relying on additional materials. The primary factor to consider is whether using the site will disturb the terrain pattern enough to attract an enemy’s attention. The goal is not to disturb the terrain pattern at all. Any change in an existing terrain pattern will indicate the presence of activity. Terrain patterns have distinctive characteristics that are necessary to preserve. The five general terrain patterns are:

  • Agricultural. Agricultural terrain has a checkerboard pattern when viewed from aircraft. This is a result of the different types of crops and vegetation found on most farms.
  • Urban. Urban terrain is characterized by uniform rows of housing with interwoven streets and interspersed trees and shrubs.
  • Wooded. Woodlands are characterized by natural, irregular features, unlike the geometric patterns of agricultural and urban terrains.
  • Barren. Barren terrain presents an uneven, irregular work of nature without the defined patterns of agricultural and urban areas. Desert environments are examples of barren terrain.
  • Arctic. Arctic terrain is characterized by snow and ice coverage.

Reference: FM 20-3 Camouflage, Concealment and Decoys

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