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Tobyhanna Army Depot hosts snow camouflage uniform testing

Representatives from PEO Soldier model military camouflage uniforms during a data collection effort at Tobyhanna Army Depot.

DANIELLE E. WEINSCHENK/TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT

By ROBERT TOMKAVAGE | The Times-Tribune | Published: February 21, 2021

(Tribune News Service) — A military camouflage uniform testing exercise held at Tobyhanna Army Depot last month will help ensure service members remain safe when engaged in future battles.

The facility in Monroe County, Pa., was selected as a data collection site by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after its analysis discovered the area's terrain closely resembles potential combat environments in the Baltic region of Europe, said Danielle Weinschenk, the depot's lead public affairs specialist.

And the snow on the ground helped.

The testing was part of an ongoing study to determine the effectiveness of military overwhite uniforms. The attire, also known as "snow camouflage," is designed to conceal soldiers from different types of night vision sensors.

"The work we did will help us determine how we can improve our snow camouflage system for our soldiers," said Clay Williamson, future programs officer at PEO Soldier in Virginia.

Anabela Dugas, a textile technologist at the Army's DEVCOM Soldier Center in Massachusetts, stressed the findings will provide agencies with vital data to determine if the uniforms can be spotted in different environments.

"They will do a probability of detection evaluation where they take all the images, calibrate them and go through a simulation-type database where soldiers look at different images to see if they are able to detect the garment under the conditions and backgrounds, and at what range," she said.

The results from the study will also be used for future product development and procurement, Weinschenk said.

Williamson lauded members of the depot's staff for their cooperation with the project.

"We do testing at a huge array of military installations, not just Army, and the support we got at Tobyhanna was top-notch," he said. "It was also the exact environment we needed and the weather was perfectly cooperative to accomplish our testing."

Representatives from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment and a Program Executive Office soldier participated in the study.

Williamson added the Army is considering converting some conventional units into a Arctic-capable brigade to increase its presence in that region.

"That highlights the importance of making sure we have good snow camouflage," he said.

Although soldiers have been wearing snow camouflage for many years, Williamson noted the importance of continued testing.

"As technology develops and proliferates across the battlefields, and becomes more prevalent in our enemy's hands, we need to make sure we're able to protect soldiers from detection by more advanced systems," he said.

rtomkavage@timesshamrock.com

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