In a scene from the 1987 film Predator, the main character, Dutch (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), finds himself covered in mud on a riverbank as the manhunting alien stares directly at him. Fortunately for Dutch, the cool mud covering his skin matches the temperature of the surrounding dirt, masking from the predator’s thermal vision the heat radiating from his body. More than 30 years later, the need to mask from enemy sensors the thermal signatures of Marines in the field is urgent.
Whether facing state or nonstate actors, the Marine Corps in future wars will be required to contend with a technologically sophisticated enemy. On battlefields around the globe, current and potential U.S. adversaries have demonstrated an impressive ability to employ sophisticated unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and advanced ground systems. In ongoing and future wars, Marines should not assume that the airspace and electromagnetic spectrum will be as uncontested as they have been throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
1. Sam Million-Weaver, “‘Stealth’ Material’ Hides Hot Objects from Infrared Eyes,” University of Wisconsin-Madison News, 21 June 2018.
2. Million-Weaver, “‘Stealth’ Material.”
3. BAE Systems, “ADAPTIV: A Unique Camouflage System,” BAE website.
4. YouTube, “Apache vs. Space Blanket,” 16 November 2015.