Letter Re: Ghillie Suits and IR Protection

Saturday, Oct 15, 2005

Jim:
I find I must disagree with you about Ghillies. In my opinion a poncho is a not a good idea for a Ghillie. My advice instead is to use a long "lab-coat" style jacket [as the starting point for constructing a Ghillie]. I bought mine for $10 at a surplus work-clothes store. Get a large one which will fit over your LBE without your pack. Dye it brown (or some other more tactical color) and cut the front of the coat in a U-shape from just above the belt-line and from the outer edge of the thigh (so the material on the sides just brushes the ground when you are on your belly), it should look like a set of "Tails" on a bizarre tuxedo. Get rid of the button closures too, replace them with velcro closures to get in and out of the suit fast. Then use camo-netting or fishnet to cover the coat completely across the back, arms (with an inch or two of excess) and a veil that goes over the head and down about half-way to the waist (so it can be used to cover your weapon.) Secure the net on the suit either by sewing it directly or by sewing on buttons and making button-holes in the netting (sewing directly is MUCH easier.) The burlap, rope, cloth pieces, etc. are then tied to the netting, completely across the back and the back and top of the veil with a small amount on the front of the veil itself. Add a pair of trousers with the back of the legs similarly covered and either sew strips to a pair of boots or make a pair of spats covered in strips. I also recommend covering the knees and elbow areas with heavy material to reduce wear and pad the joints when crawling.

The Ghillie suit is for laying down or crawling, so you cannot put a bunch of stuff on the front, nor can you crawl very well with material bunching up under your legs or needing to be secured so it doesn't get in your way. My version will cover what needs to be covered, it's not quite as hot as many versions, allows a degree of freedom of movement, and best of all is not covered in stiff, sticky, often flammable glue. A little spray-paint can be used to tone down bright spots and blend the colors better. Also a fire retardant is essential, all that burlap and cloth will go up like a month-old Christmas tree with the slightest spark.

One other note, [lining a ghillie suit with] mylar is a bad idea, a Ghillie suit is hot enough, adding mylar will have you broiling in your own juices in five minutes if you cover yourself in it and that's the only way to disguise your heat signature enough to matter. If you are worried about FLIR or other thermal detection, find an olive drab space-blanket or, even better, a "combat casualty blanket" which is a heavy padded version of a space-blanket, and convert it into a cover for you position.- Warhawke


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