Why things are seen
Understanding the reasons why things are seen in the field will not only help us to remain undetected, but will help us detect and observe the enemy. This lesson will use some realistic examples to demonstrate these points, and introduce six factors that we can reduce to aide our own concealment.
Why things are seen
Factors determining how easy or difficult an object is to see can be remembered using SST SSM.
Shape – Silhouette – Texture – Shadow – Spacing – Movement
- Shape – Nature is full of irregular shapes, and as one saying goes “there are no straight lines in nature.” When observing we need to look for straight lines, the edges of shelters, regular edges on rifles, and the rounded edges of helmets, hats and shoulders. To avoid detection ourselves, we will need to break up regular shapes.
- Silhouette – Also known as sky lining, this is the most common fault that people make that makes them easy to spot, but use of natural cover will help avoid this. A silhouette occurs when a person or object stands out against a high contrast background; usually the sky. When observing, look out for natural features that may force an enemy to silhouette themselves, such as crossing the top of a hill or walking past a gap in hedge or wall that has sky as the background. For us, going around obstacles as opposed to over them will reduce the risk of silhouetting.
- Texture – Is a combination of shine and surface. The shine from an un-camouflaged face, or from a metallic mess tin, or even an exposed watch face will reflect and shine in bright light and betray a concealed position. Further to shine and texture, the contrast between different surfaces may lead to a position being discovered. A shiny face against a natural background will stand out just as much as a seemingly well camouflaged natural looking surface in an urban environment with man-made smooth surfaces.
- Shadow – The best form of concealment is to stay in the shadows. However, remember that while we are in the shadow, we may be casting a shadow that could be spotted. Be aware of your own shadow, and that if you are occupying a position for a longer period of time that the sun moves, as will the shadows.
- Spacing – Just like “there are no straight lines in nature” there are also no regular spaces. Woods and forests where the trees are regularly spaced have been artificially planted like that. We need to consider avoiding regular spacing when patrolling, and when setting up a patrol harbour, however when observing the enemy, spotting items with regular spacing may draw our attention, even if they have been otherwise well camouflaged.
- Movement – The best camouflaged position can be given away as a result of unnecessary movement. The movement of trees blowing in the wind is gentle and swaying, but the movement of a bush as people move inside it is not. Being observant to these movements will help draw your attention to possible enemy positions. Keep your own movement to a minimum, with frequent pauses to look and listen for signs that you have been spotted. Once in position, or when in close proximity to the enemy you must keep still.
Having an awareness of why things are seen will make you more effective at spotting the enemy, and being able to reduce your own visual signature will reduce further the chances of you being spotted by them. Understanding why things are seen will be important when we come on to learn about Observation and Camouflage & Concealment. Remember the six factors to why things are seen SSM SST: