U.S. Market Insights Why is the U.S. military’s need for camouflage nets reemerging?

When you're a Soldier, you conceal your body with a camouflage uniform – but your vehicles and assets need protection, too. Camouflage nets provide this defense. And although their usage has declined in recent years, the U.S. military's need for camouflage nets is reemerging.

Why did U.S. military camouflage net usage decrease over the past 15 years?
There are three main reasons for the decrease during this period:

  1. The threat faced by the U.S. military was not technologically advanced and did not have sensors, sights, or detection equipment.
  2. Many U.S. forces have been operated out of well-protected forward operating bases (FOB), and were thus less likely to encounter hostile forces.
  3. In 2009, the U.S. Army removed camouflage nets from units' modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) and property books. This reduced unit access to camouflage nets and other multispectral protection items.

Why are camouflage nets reemerging at this point in time?
Today, the U.S. military is facing new and unprecedented threats. Modern opposition forces have more advanced equipment, primarily unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Many UAVs only cost a few hundred dollars, come with very advanced imaging decides, and are very simple to operate. Thus, the U.S. military needed to reassess its need for multispectral camouflage nets.

To highlight the rising importance of camouflage nets, the U.S. Department of Defense recently posted an article about a U.S. Army rotational unit in Poland getting trained on camouflaging Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 Abrams tanks. In the article, Capt. Edward Bachar noted, "We need to have the ability to quickly move into a wooded area and not be able to be observed by any potential enemy. It is important that within approximately 15 minutes, this Bradley [is] able to go from maneuvering in a large open area directly into the wood line and blend in with the local surroundings."

Will obtaining more camouflage nets be a challenge for the U.S. military?
Unfortunately, yes. There are some nets available in depots – but instead of the U.S. military fielding these nets, units must pay for them with their own funds. In order for the military to procure nets for units, it will need to find room in its budget, where the nets will face stiff competition for funding.

These are not simple decisions. But we must meet increasingly sophisticated threats with even more sophisticated protection methods – and that includes multispectral camouflage nets.

Kevin Dunham
Director of Business Development, Saab Barracuda
Saab Defense and Security USA

This post is part of Saab USA's U.S. Market Insights blog series, where our marketing and business development employees offer their thoughts on the issues affecting their portfolio.