Asymmetric Dialogue

The Evolution Of Military Camouflage

The First World War: A 'hidden' combat

In the run-up to the Great War, a new threat was on the horizon - enemy aerial reconnaissance.
From this, militaries first used camouflage patterning and tactics to hide locations and equipment - not people.
Modern camouflage as we recognise only began in 1915 when, after being defeated by the Germans, the French army abandoned their white gloves and red pantaloons.
They enlisted a cadre of artists to develop stealthier uniform and formed the first units of 'camoufleurs' – specialists in camouflage.
Initial tactics were confined to painting vehicles and weaponry in disruptive patterns to blend into the surrounding landscape.
They later taught other militaries how to disguise their equipment with paint, how to erase truck tracks and cannon blast marks, as well as using netting interwoven with fake leaves to hide sheds holding military equipment. 

The Second World War and aerial attacks

A fresh threat of aerial attacks prompted militaries on both sides to use camouflage more widely.
All First World War-era camouflage tactics were revived and expanded, except dazzle painting.
Two Allied wins during the Second World War owed their success largely to camouflage: El Alamein in 1942, and D-Day in 1944.
During the second battle of El Alamein, the Allies blocked the Germans from seizing the Suez Canal with an intricately detailed camouflage-plan involving inflatable tanks, fake artillery blasts and even hiding the entire Suez Canal from aerial view. 

Post Second World War

The Second World War saw the rise of printing patterns onto fabric - with nations having several unique camouflage patterns, each designed to fit in with the battle landscape (e.g. snow, jungle, forest, desert).
In the late ‘90s, the Canadian military adopted a digital pattern that replaced swirls with a pixilated design.
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