ZAGAN, Poland -- Now you see them, and now you don't. Concealing 28-ton fighting vehicles and tanks in any type of terrain takes a high level of skill.
In the forested hills of Swietozow, Poland, the soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team demonstrated as much Jan. 20, as they trained on camouflaging Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks.
"Today we're here to prove the concept that, regardless of the color of the vehicle, with enough preparation and dedication, we have the ability to camouflage in any scenery," said Army Capt. Edward Bachar, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment.
"But specifically here in the forest of western Poland."
HOW IT'S DONE
Army Sgt. Cody Flodin, an infantryman assigned to 1-68, said the initial step of camouflaging a vehicle is to place it in an assault position and cover the vehicle with a camouflage net -- a radar and laser-scattering net that deters detection from the air or the ground.
Then, Flodin said, he covers the vehicle using dead foliage from the forest floor to break up the visual outline of the vehicle. Once the vehicle is concealed, he places snow on the foliage to mimic the natural environment and ensures that all vehicle functions still work properly.
"We need to have the ability to quickly move into a wooded area and not ... be observed by any potential enemy," Bachar said. "It is important that, within approximately 15 minutes, this Bradley [can] go from maneuvering in a large open area directly into the woodline and blend in with the local surroundings."
The unit prepared for this mission during a 30-day training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
FROM DESERT TO FOREST
Just three months earlier, the unit had to do the same thing with the same vehicles, only in the desert.
"We have the ability to execute hide sites, [conduct] assembly area operations, [assume] assault positions and remain undetected from the enemy," the captain explained. "To be able to do the same thing in a completely different environment really shows the proficiency of the crew."
In a few months, the Bradleys and tanks will be painted in green foliage camouflage, making it a little easier for the "Iron Brigade" soldiers to conceal themselves. In the meantime, Bachar said, they will continue to hone their skills.
"Fieldcraft is a priority, really, in anything from a dismounted squad being able to blend into its surroundings to a Bradley fighting vehicle," he added. "This is just a proof of concept and the initial training to ensure we have the ability to do it. From here on out, we're going to continue to get better in our ability to do exactly that."
The Iron Brigade is here as the first rotation of back-to-back armored brigades in Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve. U.S. European Command officials said the rotation will enhance deterrence capabilities in the region, improve the U.S. ability to respond to potential crises, and defend allies and partners in the European community.
U.S. forces will focus on strengthening capabilities and sustaining readiness through bilateral and multinational training and exercises, officials added.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.