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Army April 26, 2012
6A long hard look at future
Put to the test: From
left, Cfn Gavin Wakefield,
Pte Taylor Gleeson and
Pte Daniel Andrews,
of 3CSSB, trial new
and current uniforms
for NATO scientists at
Tully. Inset, a range of
camouflage patterns and
materials designed to
confuse modern sensors
were put to the test
during the trial.
Cpl Mark Doran
DEFENCE Science and Technology
Organisation hosted the first NATO
trial ever held in Australia at the
Jungle Training Centre in Tully from
The camouflage effectiveness field
trial involved Australia, Canada, the
Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain,
the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
NATO Research Technology
Organisation SCI 219 (Camouflage in Hot
Humid Areas) was designed to counter
advances in modern sensor systems.
The international collaboration
assessed multi-spectral camouflage
techniques, materials and systems
which would provide the knowledge for
increased survivability for soldiers in hot
and humid areas.
Ten soldiers from Townsville's 3CSSB
became models for the trial and wore 20
in-service or experimental uniforms from
the different nations.
The Chief of DSTO's Human
Protection and Performance Division,
Dr Simon Oldfield, said the group of
Australian scientists participating in the
trial, led by Dr Bin Lee, focused on the
performance and protection of the indi-
"One of the most significant things we
provided for the countries involved in the
trial was the unique environment of the
Tully jungle," Dr Oldfield said.
"DSTO has a good track record in
understanding camouflage science and we
are increasingly interested in the transi-
tion of that knowledge into a fielded uni-
form integrated with a soldier's ensemble,
which is the very best we can provide
and is suitable for the current operational
The trial will support Diggerworks
with methods and concepts for assessing
It will also allow DSTO to access and
share knowledge, methodologies, systems
and reports which the NATO Research
Technology Organisation members have
used for assessing camouflage effective-
ness in multiple bands of the electromag-
Robert Balma, Chair of NATO SCI
219, said the working group was set up in
2009 and its aim was to characterise cur-
rent uniforms and either adapt them to the
jungle background or to design new ones
that would work more efficiently.
"The Canadians imagery suite runs
from ultra-violet through to the long-wave
thermal infra-red wavelength and we have
a host of other digital cameras measuring
spectral data," Mr Balma said.
"I can say from long, practical experi-
ence there are some uniforms working
better than others, but I have to be careful
in qualifying that because we are just at
the beginning of the investigation.
"So over the long term, the uniforms
which are not as appealing now may turn
out to be really quite good."
Dr Oldfield said the NATO trial
allowed Australia to access and share the
ideas of all the different countries' scien-
tists involved in similar projects.
"We are not just experimenting with
the camouflage you would see in visible
light, but also in near infra-red, as with
night vision equipment or with the next
generation of sophisticated sensors," he
"Ultimately we are trying to trick the
human perceiver, so we need to under-
stand the visual system and the physics of
the camouflage process.
"Camouflage will continue to evolve,
as will the complete soldier ensemble, and
we are focused on having materials which
are light but durable with a low thermal
"The revolution will come in material
science and the innovations like Nano-
technology, with fabrics which are water
repellent and capable of breathing."
Pte Steven Rogers, of 3CSSB, said it
was extremely interesting to see the tech-
nology and how it all worked.
"I thought some of the uniforms
worked very well, but they are a bit thick
for our tropical environment," he said.
"The NATO scientists were very
friendly and if you asked them a question
about the trial or the equipment they were
only too happy to show us and explain
what was happening or what they were
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