The modern soldier has hundreds if not thousands of specialized pouches that he or she can choose to carry their equipment. However, this was not always the case. The #1 complaint I hear about the ALICE system is that there are not enough types of pouches. Now, this is true- there are only a handful of pouches and the ALICE system was never as diverse as the MOLLE or other modular systems we use today. But the basic design of ALICE is very sound and the price hard to beat. That said, the following are some modifications that will greatly increase your comfort and the usability of the ALICE system.
First things first, to understand how best to modify the ALICE system one must understand the why behind the way it’s designed and this requires a short history lesson. If you’re looking to jump straight to mods and suggestions, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
The ALICE, or All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment was issued in 1973 to replace the load carry systems used in WW2, Korea and Vietnam but has roots reaching back into the 1950s. The most notable change was the use of nylon rather than canvas. This new fabric was lighter, didn’t get as heavy when wet, was resistant to rotting after cycles of being wet and dry repeatedly and was still ridiculously rugged. This fabric had been used in the M1967 Moderninzed Load Carry Equipment (MLCE) system for the first time but this had been designed as climate a climate specific system for use in Vietnam, not a troop-wide replacement. Additionally, steel and brass components were replaced with aluminum and plastic when able to further reduce weight.
MLCE, also known as LC-1 provided much of the basic components and showed promise but troop feedback showed that some items needed modification prior to mass issue. These changes were made, and M1972 was born. Shortly after it’s release, a handful of additional changes were made and this final product is what we know as the actual ALICE system. It consists of the following components:
- Belt, Individual Equipment, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-001-6487-series)
- Carrier, Entrenching Tool, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-001-6474)
- Case, Field First Aid Dressing, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-935-6814)
- Case, Small Arms Ammunition, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-001-6482)
- Cover, Water Canteen, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-860-0256)
- Suspenders, Individual Equipment Belt, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-001-6471)
- Field Pack, LC-2 medium (NSN 8465-01-019-9102)
- Field Pack, LC-2 large (NSN 8465-01-019-9103)
- Frame, Field Pack, LC-2 (NSN 8465-01-073-8326)
- Strap, Webbing, LC-2 (NSN 8465-01-075-8164) waist strap
- Strap, Webbing, LC-2 (NSN 8465-01-151-2891) frame attaching strap
- Strap, Webbing, LC-2 (NSN 8465-01-078-9282) right shoulder strap
- Strap, Webbing, LC-1 (NSN 8465-00-269-0482) left shoulder strap
Additionally, the following items from the former MLCE system continued to be produced for use with ALICE:
- Cover, Water Canteen, 2-Quart, Collapsible [NSN 8465-00-927-7485]
- Field (butt) Pack [NSN 8465-00-935-6825]
One other item of note is the double pistol magazine pouch 200rnd drum magazine pouch, and the M12 holster which are often seen alongside ALICE. An ALICE manual can be found at the link below which details the use and care of many of these items.
The ALICE system would go on to be one of the longest serving load bearing solutions in the US armed forces to date, with several components still used today even though ALICE as a whole has long been officially phased out. It has been copied time and time again, with numerous foreign systems borrowing concepts. It remains an excellent buy for the money and while not the most high speed option, it is still a viable option for dismounted infantry operations. However, with continual advancements in mechanized warfare and the addition of armor vests, the belt mounted load carry system was quickly found wanting.
Eventually, the IIFS system would add load bearing vest options to ALICE, providing the ability for the wearer to spread out the weight of their load and make it more comfortable as well as remove pouches along their back and sides to make vehicle travel more comfortable. The CFP-90 main ruck and patrol/radio pack also showed promise (though they proved to be unreliable) but both systems functioned merely as a stop gap until the MOLLE system came online, ushering in a new age of modularity and a whole new compliment of load carry and pack solutions. This, along with more recent concepts such as chest rigs, modular subcomponents such as placards and scalable systems have rendered ALICE mostly obsolete. That said, ALICE remains an excellent option for the user looking to get a system that they know will work while they figure out what they really need or simply for someone that intends to be focused on dismounted conventional infantry type operations.
Tips and Modifications
Follow the links below for tips and modifications concerning the LBE/fighting load and the ALICE rucks. Keep in mind, many can be used in both realms as the rucks have locations to mount pouches and various other items on the outside.
Special thanks to Davis Winborne and Wikipedia for their photos.