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.