Improved Ghillie Suits (IGS)

Personally I wish someone had pushed for the phrase “Future Updated Ghillie Suits” (FUGS) when they were thinking about “future warfare”. Instead the US Army is talking about Improved Ghillie Suits (IGS) to address the shortcomings of past designs.

Notable issues:

  • If you dress like a tree, you may be as flammable as one (several snipers have burned to death)
  • If you dress like a woolly mammoth, you may be as heavy and hot as one (ok, that’s really two issues)
  • If your suit is singular instead of modular, the above two properties are greater

Innovation is happening in the field, by snipers working to stay alive, blend better and also function more efficiently/safely, so the textile department of the Army decided to incorporate some of these ideas.

Maj. WaiWah Ellison, assistant product manager, Durable Goods, Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment with Program Executive Office Soldier, explained the need for the update: “The current kit is thick and heavy and comes with a lot of pieces that aren’t used.

“Soldiers are creating ghillie suits with their own materials to match their personal preference. We want to make the IGS simpler and modular so the snipers will use what is issued to them instead of relying on outside resources,” Ellison said.

While this all makes sense from a product manager view in terms of updating the suits, relying on outside resources does kinda sound more like what camouflage is all about… especially if you live near places that use fishing nets and do a lot of knitting with thick yarns (the basic ingredients to make your own ghillie suit).

And you have to marvel at the fact nobody thought forward enough to realize how a Scottish concept of wearing heavy and fluffy suits for a rainy cold climate would end up being very hot and flammable elsewhere.

Yes, I said Scottish. Did I mention fishing and knitting?

Just in case you’re wondering what a Ghillie is…Scotland Magazine breaks the meaning down over the centuries:

Since the Victorians discovered their passion for stalking, the life of the ghillie has had less to do with carrying Highland chiefs across raging torrents and more to do with the management of the landscape and looking after stalkers on the hill.

Fast forward to today:

“Do I look flammable to you?” Urban warfare researchers find their ghillie suit in the city heavy, hot, prone to combustion and perhaps most of all….failing to blend in

It’s nice if you don’t have to take time to gather local capabilities to blend in, but that does presume accurate and fast feedback loops reaching the top of a very large organization.

A recent IDF investigation into a failed operation gives insight into how local knowledge — required for blending into the most dangerous environments — can be very dangerous to underestimate or get wrong.

…based on interviews with Hamas officials, a picture is emerging of a carefully planned Israeli intelligence operation in which agents posing as Palestinian aid workers may have gone undetected for up to two weeks before it went awry.

2 thoughts on “Improved Ghillie Suits (IGS)”

  1. Firstly That image of a ghillie suit is synthetic fibers , so no it’s not flammable , that is not a jute suit. Jute at the end of the day has always looked better and I found blends better than synthetic shit, but at the cost of weight & flammability.

  2. @anonymous Synthetic fibers are extremely flammable… take for example that materials with a limiting oxygen index (LOI) lower than the oxygen content of the earth’s atmosphere (21%) will burn easily. Spun synthetics are basically a form of fuel, kind of like wearing a suit of oil ready to combust.

    Wool: will not easily ignite (LOI 24-25 ignites 590C)
    Polyester: combustible (LOI 20-23 ignites 485C)
    Acrylic: combustible (LOI 18-20 ignites 390C)
    Polypropylene: burns easily (LOI 17-18 ignites 350C)

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