If two countries go to war, how can the opposing army know which army is theirs without accidently shooting their own teammates?


Does every army in every country have a different uniform? Or do they all wear camouflaged suits or something.

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In general, different armies have different uniforms exactly for that reason! Even if they are using camouflage, they tend to pick different colors and styles, because it is important that your soldiers are able to spot their allies and not shoot them.

Different uniforms, identifying colors in helmets/on person, passwords/codewords and just generally if you’re being shot at it’s likely it’s the enemy firing. Also officers are briefed which direction enemy is at and they brief their people.

Comms, comms, comms. Very important.

Apart from uniform identification, you typically know where you’re supposed to have friendly forces.

If a street has friendlies chances are they relayed that and your team knows about it.

But, shit happens, sometimes shit doesn’t get passed along or there’s confusion as it often happens in war and friendly fire incidents are not unheard of.

It’s a requirement by international law to keep identifying patches and insignia and the like on your uniform, and same goes for vehicles and encampments. Most countries don’t use the same pattern or camouflage or recognizable silhouette of equipment they carry.

But sometimes they do. Right now, Ukraine and Russia carry more or less identical equipment loadouts and camouflage – recent NATO supplies to Ukraine notwithstanding. Even if not, insignia can be difficult to spot in combat. So they’ve been using colored armbands and tape on their helmets – blue and yellow for Ukrainian, while Russian units have red and orange and other colors, maybe St George’s Ribbon. This is also why the big Z is a thing (and O and V and whatever other letters they had), they wanted to mark their own gear to avoid friendly fire, which can be difficult in a chaotic environment such as an invasion. This is also why aircraft involved in D-Day have those black and white stripes on the wings. Generally it’s far better for your survival to be obviously friendly to friendlies even if it makes you more obviously an enemy to enemies. This is even more important if you’re part of a large coalition or have foreign equipment supplied to you, so you can see that everyone is on the same side even if they all look different.

It’s also important if you capture enemy gear and plan to use or move it to mark it for friendlies. You’ll see Russian vehicles with the Z spraypainted over while flying a Ukrainian flag for example.

Depending on circumstances other things may be used, for instance in Iraq orange panels were placed on coalition vehicles, or IR strobes which could only be seen by night vision on friendly forces in other conflicts, though those were phased out as night vision became more common amongst enemies.