Evolving from LINCLOE, to LCE, to LLCE, to ALICE

In 1965 the Lightweight Individual Clothing & Equipment (LINCLOE) program marked the official start of the U. S. Army’s development of a standard load-carrying equipment system to lighten the carrying load for combat soldiers. However, earlier work along similar lines can be traced to the development of the Lightweight Rucksack in 1961. Feedback from infantry soldiers in 1962 led to the development of a modified M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE) system using nylon materials in place of cotton canvas duck. From these early modifications of existing gear, LINCLOE set design goals of 3 lbs. for the field pack and 3.3 lbs. for the nylon-equipped M-1956 LCE. In 1967 the nylon M-1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE) was adopted although it was intended for use only in tropical environments.

The LINCLOE program did not end with the adoption of the M-1967 MLCE. In 1969 LINCLOE developed another LCE system, the LINCLOE LCE. Initial testing of the LINCLOE LCE revealed failures primarily with the closure devices. Throughout 1970-72, the LINCLOE program continued to test configurations based on both the LINCLOE LCE and the M-1967 MLCE. However, due to numerous problems with the various sets of equipment supplied by Natick Laboratories, the U. S. Army suspended testing in March 1972. Natick Laboratories made the requested modifications and testing was completed by August 1972.

In late 1972, Natick Laboratories and the U. S. Army agreed on a system that would later be adopted as U. S. Army standard in January 1973 – the M-1972 Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (LLCE). Contracts for the M-1972 LLCE components were issued in 1974 and soon thereafter the system was renamed All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE). The ALICE military backpack was the final result of the LINCLOE program and officially entered service in 1974.

The ALICE system uses the concepts of fighting and existence loads, the primary idea being that an infantryman should not carry any items deemed unnecessary to the immediate mission. Thus the items of the fighting load are normally carried on the belt and suspenders where they are easily accessible; the existence load is intended to be carried in the field pack.

The ALICE pack has been phased out of service for all active units in the U. S. Army. It was succeeded by the MOLLE system.

The Old Reliable ALICE Backpack

One of the first modern, modern day military backpacks was developed in 1973. It was called the ALICE backpack, standing for All-purpose lightweight carrying equipment.  ALICE was developed for United States troops in Vietnam. The backpack was used from the 1970’s to the 1990’s until it was replaced by a newer model. The replacement bag called the MOLLE was then used more often than the ALICE military backpack, although some soldiers still preferred the older, reliable ALICE bag.

The ALICE backpack’s main purpose was to help our soldiers to carry less weight. Older backpacks that were used in WWI and WW2 were very heavy and the older materials retained water. They were terribly hard to carry when they got wet. Furthermore, they were made of steel which at times made them unbearable to carry. The ALICE backpack only weighed a light 3 pounds, and the material was also lightweight cotton. As an added bonus, the ALICE military backpacks were water resistant.

The ALICE bags were designed to be more convenient as well for the soldiers. At the hard times of war, it was very important to keep our soldiers as comfortable as possible. There was a wide mid section strap, and the shoulder straps were also wider than the older bags. This allowed the Vietnam soldiers to be able to patrol and march much more easily. For the convenience of the soldier, the bags came in 3 different sizes to fit everyone’s different needs. This allowed the soldiers to carry their ammunition, firearms, first aid kit, and a clothing change. This was the new perfect product to make the lives of our soldiers better.

The ALICE bag was enjoyed by all types of people. Soon it became the new trend for people who liked to hike, camp, or climb. If you were an adventurous person, the ALICE backpack was perfect for you. Even today, you can find these bags at many army surplus outlets. They are reasonably priced and still enjoyed today. Although there are many different bags you can purchase today comparable to the ALICE , some still prefer the old reliable ALICE Military backpack.

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