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a set of measures coordinated according to purpose, place, and time that are intended to confuse the enemy regarding the command’s plans, the composition and location of forces and weapons, and the condition and combat capabilities of troops; one of the basic types of support actions for troops in operations and combat.
Camouflage helps achieve surprise, makes troop actions effective and preserves their combat capability, and reduces losses of personnel and materiel. Camouflaging conceals the location of troops and military installations by eliminating or diminishing telltale signs, by having personnel observe camouflage discipline and rules for using radio electronic equipment, and by simulating troop movements and concentrations, setting up dummy installations and conducting deceptive actions by troops, and providing the enemy with false information.
Camouflaging has been used since ancient times, but as a system of special measures it took shape during World War I (1914-18), when special camouflage subunits appeared in the armies of the warring states and when paints, camouflage nets, smoke, and other means were used. Camouflage was used among troops at the front and for various military installations in the rear; operational camouflage was born, and textbooks and manuals were published. Camouflage became a special branch of military knowledge. It took on a broad scope during World War II (1939-45). With the continuing development of weapons and technical means of ground, air, and sea reconnaissance, the significance of camouflage has increased in the postwar period.
Depending on the scale of the measures being carried out, camouflage is divided into tactical (troop), operational, and strategic. Tactical camouflage is employed by all personnel in their daily combat activity to conceal from enemy reconnaissance the location of positions, means of fire, areas of troop and equipment concentration, maneuvers on the battlefield, command and observation posts, and battle and march formations. This is done by having troops take advantage of natural concealment (vegetation, folds in the terrain, structures, embankments, and the like) and poor visibility conditions (night, fog, rain, and snow) and by employing technical camouflage procedures based on the use of organic equipment and various improvised and industrially produced articles.
Among the means of camouflage used are camouflage clothing, camouflage paints, man-made screens of various types to conceal objects from enemy reconnaissance (screens against optical reconnaissance equipment, cover screens, dummy screens, and radar screens), dummies of combat, special, and transportation equipment and weapons (guns, tanks, aircraft, and ships), and dummy installations (positions and troop concentration areas, control posts, and ship basing points).
Rules of blackout are observed, and use is made of aerosol camouflage screens created by means of smoke pots, shells, mines, bombs, and other smoke weapons. Pyrotechnical means are used to simulate the flashes of gunfire and other signs of troop activity in dummy areas. There is sound camouflage (decreasing, muffling, or simulating the sounds and noises of tank movement, artillery fire, work by engineering equipment, and so on), as well as radio camouflage, radar camouflage, and other types, which counteract or complicate enemy reconnaissance using technical means. Operational and strategic camouflage includes a set of activities by the command to misinform the enemy regarding the composition of troops and their operational formation, the axis of the main strike in an attack (counterstrike on the defense), and possible methods of action. Operational or strategic camouflage is usually achieved by carrying out deceptive troop (or naval) actions, simulating regroupings and concentration, concealing troops and installations, and misinforming the enemy.
S. G. CHERMASHENTSEV and V. A. EFIMOV