Students ask me all the time, “How do we see the guy in front of us on a really dark patrol?”. My answer is first and foremost that the situational variables (terrain and illumination, etc.) dictate your spacing and formation (tight ranger file, 5-10 mtr spread wedge etc.). Using your training and experience (you’re practicing movement at night, right?) and applying 2 of the most important principles in the 5 principles of patrolling, CONTROL and COMMON SENSE, will get you through a patrol without losing anyone, or getting lost yourself.
You should always plan on the lowest common denominator when it comes to reliance on equipment. Night vision and Thermal viewers are great, but will let you down when needed the most (Damn Murphy again), and if you’re gonna plan on using visual aides, using something that doesn’t required batteries or a certain level of illumination, makes the most sense from a practical aspect. When I first joined the military, I was given some “cat eye” tape, and an extra name tape, and told to get out the sewing kit, and make my PC look like everybody else’s.
“Cat eyes” are an awesome aide when you’re following the team member in front of you in a deep, dark swamp, where the illumination is measured in lightning bugs per hour (LBPH). Any grunt that has done any time in the field will tell you they are a great aide to keeping track of the guy in front, and still being able to maintain a safer interval (spacing out, not bunching up) than you would be able to without them to see.
Yes, I understand that they stand out like a sore thumb to NOD’s (night vision), but not everybody, even on the modern battlefield, has NOD’s, so get over yourself, with the “Tacticool” what if’s, and think of it as a tool in the tool box that can be used….or not. My modification places “cat eyes” on one side of a velcro patch, and a 3/4″x3/4″ IR (Infra-Red) reflective tab on the other side.
If everyone has NOD’s, use the IR, but if most on the team does not, use the “cat eyes”. The best part about this is that you can completely remove it if you think you’ll be compromised with it in place. Just so you know, this is an adaptation of an idea from an old Team Sergeant I know, who had “cat eyes” on a piece of cloth, that he could safety pin in place for use.
Start with materials needed:
Luminous “Cat eye” tape, roll is an inch wide, cut two pieces that are 1/2″ wide, and an inch tall. You can also cut them off of an old helmet band if you have a spare around.
Earth tone velcro, both sides (Hook-rough side, loop-soft side) that come on a velcro flag will work for this project. Soft side piece measure 1 1/2″x2″, rough side measures 2″x3″
You will need an IR reflective tab, whether you cut it off of ACU’s, or order one through the mail is up to you.
Position the soft (Loop) side where you want it on the back of your PC (patrol cap), and sew in place.
Next, take your rough (Hook) side and either cut in half (stays flatter) or fold a crease in the middle, so it measures 1″x2″. The object of this is to have a hook side velcro surface on both sides.
Next, you will sew the “cat eyes” on to one half (or piece) of the hook side velcro, and sew the IR tab on to the other side. (note: do not remove the backing from the “cat eye” tape, it will tear very easily when you’re trying to sew it!)
After attachment of the “cat eyes”, and the IR tab, finish by sewing the two pieces or sides together. When you’re finished it will look like this with the “cat eye” side out
And this with the IR tab side out
This just a simple modification of someone else’s idea. You can leave it off (sew soft side velcro inside cap to store it), you can use the “cat eyes”, or you can use the IR tab. What this gives you is options based on your tactical situation and needs, and having options makes things easier when making plans, and conducting operations.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.