Why have one soldier dressed differently from the rest, ideally in a primary colour? Try looking at the picture bellow.
This is the famous "black dot on a white page". As you can see, it is difficult to focus your attention on anything else than the dot. Our eyes (or rather our brain) are trained to spot irregularities and focus on them. This phenomenon is tempting to use as a tactic, because there is nothing that can be done to prevent us from focusing on it without hampering vision of course. (If you looked away and failed to see the dot, congratulations!)
So how does this play in warfare? What's the point?
In battle one needs to be constantly aware of everything that is happening, lest being caught by surprise and dying pointlessly. Wether taking aim or keeping track of enemy movement, you must pay attention. And so, our eyes and the way we perceive things plays a big role. In the context of my story, the general makes the odd decision of dressing one person in red (or bright pink) in every battalion. This seems nonsensical and it probably is. However we can't argue that being distracted for a moment on a battlefield means death. One oddly dressed soldier is indeed very distracting (lime green?! What was he thinking?).
How effective would this "black dot" tactic be, regardless of context?
The tactic is pretty universal, I couldn't give one example of it being used effectively. It works just as well with ground troops or aircraft dogfights. Take your pick. At the same time getting as varied perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages would be very helpful. For ease of answering you can explore the tactic in any setting or era you prefer. The more perspectives the merrier and having a little fun at the same time doesn't hurt either, I'm not a tyrant.
The limitations of the tactic are:
- Only one soldier from each battalion must be dressed conspicuously. Any more than one would lessen the effectiveness of the distraction. If the red soldier dies, another picks up his colour. If two or more battalions meet, the red soldiers will play rock paper scissors (if they have time) to determine who the red soldier will be.
- The colour has to be vivid to draw attention. Colder colours like blues and greens won't be as effective as yellows or reds. Bright pink with bunny slippers for those that want their enemies to die laughing.
- Stealth is optional.
- A soldier standing alone must take off the coloured uniform. Only in cases where there are more than one do we need the conspicuous uniform. Rock paper scissors decides who has to put it on (sorry Jimmy! nothing personal).
If the question is missing anything important inform me in the comments.