Some people will be surprised by what seems like a question with an obvious answer. But it is not as obvious as it seems.
It has been more than a century since the armies renounced their ancient and colorful uniforms and the use of showy flags to go to the battlefields, and opted for uniforms with greenish, brownish and sandy colors to blend in with the environment. Today most armies wear camouflage uniforms, and their vehicles are painted with mimetic schemes whose purpose is to obtain a visual advantage: the one that allows them to attack before the enemy detects you.
Curiously, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has marked a curious trend due, to a large extent, to a fact that had not happened in other wars: the use of very similar equipment by both sides. Both Russia and Ukraine use tanks of Soviet and Russian origin that are very similar in appearance, and very often take advantage of material captured from the enemy.
This has also happened with uniforms, due to the popularization of Multicam , a complete camouflage created in the US by Crye Precision in 2004 and which US forces have already used in Afghanistan. Today many armies use this camouflage or derived schemes, and in the case of the aforementioned invasion, it is used by many Ukrainian and Russian soldiers, mainly from special operations forces.
In World War II it was easy to distinguish a British soldier (Brodie plate helmet) from a German (with his characteristic Stahlhelm) or an American (M-1 helmet). However, today most modern kevlar helmets have a similar shape, to properly cover the head. This leads to soldiers on both sides looking very similar. In the Ukraine, both sides have had to resort to armbands of various colours in order to correctly distinguish their troops.
In the event of being immersed in a war, Spain would find itself with a very similar problem, since its pixelated M09 forest camouflage , used by the different units of the Army and also by the Marine Infantry in officer training, was developed from the Multicam and at a certain distance it is easily confused with it.
Unlike German military vehicles, which carry the Iron Cross clearly visible, Spanish military vehicles carry very small National Flags on their frontal part, which would have practically no use for identification purposes in the field. battlefield. Other NATO armies have the same problem. Ukraine has seen different solutions. In the case of the Russians, the letter "Z" has become popular both in their land vehicles and in their aircraft. Ukrainians have opted for a white Greek cross, with the four arms of the same length, as an easy solution to decorate their vehicles.
It is not the first time that this problem has arisen in modern warfare. During the Gulf War (1990-1991), the allied forces used orange panels that were placed on the vehicles or on their rear, always oriented so that they were visible from the air. Its purpose was to prevent attacks by friendly fire by allied aircraft, since in the Iraqi desert, and under certain conditions, it was easy to confuse friends with enemies.
In addition to those orange panels, the British also used red paint and red panels for their tanks. Other painted markings were also used on tank turrets, often to distinguish the position of certain vehicles in a particular column. Thus, in today's war there is the paradox of having to combine camouflage so that you cannot be seen and badges so that you can be distinguished on the battlefield.
A common resource in the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the use of flags. The Ukrainians use their bicolor flag, and the Russians interchangeably use their tricolor flag and red flags of Soviet origin. In the end, the need to hide a vehicle is subordinated to its need to identify it and avoid casualties from friendly fire.
In the event of war, Spain could resort to its history to equip itself with symbols and an identifying color. As for symbols, the Spanish Armed Forces continue to regularly use the Cross of Burgundy, introduced in Spain in the 16th century, so it would be enough to paint large blades on Spanish military vehicles. This does not exclude the use of the Spanish Flag, which in terms of identification is one of the most effective in the world.
As for colors, let us remember that historically the Spanish Tercios used red cockades and bracelets to identify themselves on the battlefield. Thus, in case of war, that would be the natural color that Spanish soldiers should use to identify themselves on the battlefield. That, of course, if we only stick to history. But that would greatly limit our chances of identification in the event of war.
The reality is that, in the event of war, these marks and colors end up being improvised, depending on what the enemy uses and to better distinguish themselves from him. It must also be taken into account that if Spain entered the war together with its NATO allies, we would have to look for common symbols with them, since the priority would be to distinguish itself from the enemy rather than to distinguish each other from each other. the various allied armies.
This, by the way, was the raison d'être of the three-color NATO camouflage introduced in the 1980s and still used in Spain by the Marine Infantry and some Army vehicles (specifically, the Leopard 2A4 tanks, since they were bought from Germany and the camouflage with which they came from that country was maintained). It would not be a bad idea to reconsider this option instead of the traditional uniform olive green color used by the Army.
Main photo: Ejército de Tierra.
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