This soldier may look like Chewbacca, but his suit makes him one of the deadliest fighters on the battlefield
- To carry out their mission, snipers must be masters of concealment and be able to disappear in any environment, be it desert, woodland, sand, or snow.
- The ghillie suit, a kind of artificial camouflage, is key to concealment. The US Army recently released photos of a sniper school instructor showing off the various pieces of a sniper's ghillie suit.
- To effectively conceal themselves on the battlefield, snipers must also have an understanding of their environment and the tactics of concealment.
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Snipers have to be able to disappear on the battlefield in a way that other troops do not, and the ghillie suit is a key part of what makes these elite warfighters masters of concealment.
"A sniper's mission dictates that he remains concealed in order to be successful," Staff Sgt. Ricky Labistre, a sniper with 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment of the California National Guard, previously explained.
"Ghillie suits provide snipers that edge and flexibility to maintain a concealed position,"he added.
A ghillie suit is a kind of camouflaged uniform that snipers use to disappear in any environment, be it desert, woodland, sand, or snow. US Army Staff Sgt. David Smith, an instructor at the service's sniper school, recently showed off a ghillie suit that he put together from scratch using jute twine and other materials.
There are many different types of ghillie suit. This particular suit is designed for woodland or grassland environments, Fort Benning told Insider.
Concealing yourself from from the watchful eyes of the enemy is about putting "anything you can between you and whatever might be observing you," Smith previously told Insider. "The main things we use to conceal ourselves would be the clothing we wear, our ghillie suits, and the hides we construct."
To design a ghillie suit for a mission, Army snipers "start with a base layer of artificial camouflage," Smith said, explaining that this allows them to "be a little more expedient in the field" because "it gives us a base we can change from a little bit more rapidly."
A ghillie suit, as can be seen here, is designed with loose strips resembling natural backgrounds like grass, and they can, when designed and implemented properly, make snipers nearly invisible in the visual spectrum.
The aim is to break up and distort the sniper's outline, making it harder for the enemy to spot them before it is too late. That requires more than just a well-designed suit. "The best tool snipers can use to disguise and conceal themselves from the enemy is a solid understanding of their surroundings," Capt. Greg Elgort, a company commander at the Army sniper school at Fort Benning, previously told Insider.
Snipers also have to understand the tactics of concealment. They have to manage their tracks, scent, shadow, glare and any number of other things to avoid being spotted.
When it all comes together, snipers become undetectable sharpshooters with ability to provide overwatch, scout enemy positions, or eliminate threats at great distances. "No one knows you're there. I'm watching you, I see everything that you are doing, and someone is about to come mess up your day," First Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a veteran Army sniper, previously told Insider.
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