When Camo Works Against You


One of the best documentaries about Navy SEALs is an obscure one I saw many years ago on VHS tape about frogmen in Vietnam.

Fortunately, as do many media files from my gen-X era, the show still lives on YouTube. It's called "The Green Faces" and it got me thinking about a comment from a Kit Up! reader not too long ago on a post we did about Afghan NDS troopers wearing Tiger Stripe cammies.

The SEALs, so the documentary goes, became "masters" of painting their faces in menacing schemes, using the warrior look to both blend into the night jungle background and to intimidate their enemies. They became known by the Vietcong as "The men in green faces."

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RUu1GAJwF8&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00]

But there's a point where this kind of thing can be taken too far. And I can't remember the last time I saw any grunts, Joes, airmen or squids in the Box wearing face paint -- even in the stray shot of an "operator" out there.

Well, God love our readers and fans. Here's a real-world situation where the "men in green faces" proved more comic than camo.

Looking cool, or at least not looking like a dork, is a big part of morale. I jumped into Northern Iraq with the 173rd Airborne, and our commander at the time had us apply camo face paint before we jumped, and then after we landed any time we went outside of the compound we had to put it on as well. We looked ridiculous. We were wearing DCUs with loam and green face camo, patrolling in towns, cities, or deserts. His intent, I guess, was to impress upon the local population that we were serious soldiers. The actual effect was to get us laughed at by the local population, and to put a pretty big dent in our morale. ... No one wants to engage the enemy looking like a dork.
There you have it...sometimes you can take camo a little too far and actually make it work against you. Thanks to all our readers who engage in the conversation and give us insight into areas we hadn't really considered. Show Full Article
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