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The ALICE (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) load bearing system, was adopted as United States Army Standard A on 17 January 1973 to replace the M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE) and M-1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE). Although since superseded by MOLLE, ALICE gear is still in some limited use in the US Army in National Guard and training units, as well as by Navy and Air Force ground units. The US Marine Corps currently uses ALICE gear in training only.
The All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment is the end result of the LINCLOE (Lightweight Individual Clothing And Equipment) program that began in 1965 and terminated with the adoption of the ALICE system on 17 January 1973. The goal of the individual equipment portion of the LINCLOE program was to develop a lightweight load-carrying system in an effort to lighten a combat soldier's overall load. 1965–1967 Based principally on the conclusions and recommendations of A Study To Reduce The Load Of The Infantry Combat Soldier, 1962 and A Study To Conserve Energy Of The Combat Infantryman, 1964, the army established a Quantitative Material Requirement (QMR) in 1965 calling for the development of LINCLOE. Although the development of the LINCLOE load-carrying equipment did not officially start until after the United States Army Materiel Command Technical Committee (AMCTC) approved the project 27 April 1966, development of lightweight load-carrying equipment really began in 1961 with the development of the Lightweight Rucksack (FSN 8465-782-3248) made of nylon fabrics and an aluminum frame which weighed 3 pounds (1.4 kg) as compared to the 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) cotton canvas duck and steel item which it replaced. The development of this lightweight rucksack led to an informal inquiry by officers of the infantry community as to the possibility of reducing the weight of the M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE). As a result of this interest, the army produced a set of LCE in 1962, substituting available nylon materials for the cotton canvas duck. This set of nylon load-carrying equipment weighed slightly more than 3 pounds (1.4 kg) as opposed to 5 pounds (2.3 kg) for the cotton canvas duck items. These two items, the lightweight rucksack and the set of nylon LCE, formed the basis for that portion of the LINCLOE Quantitative Material Requirement dealing with load-carrying equipment. Annex A to the Quantitative Material Requirement set a goal of 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) for the individual load-carrying equipment and 3 pounds (1.4 kg) for the rucksack. Officials decided that the design of the new load-carrying equipment would follow that of the standard load-carrying equipment with material changes from cotton canvas duck to nylon duck and replacement of the brass and steel hardware with aluminum or plastic items. The design effort went slowly, due to the concentration on the design and development of items to meet the requirement of the Vietnam War, although developers initiated projects investigating the feasibility of replacing much of the steel and brass hardware with aluminum or plastic items. On 15 March 1967, an Engineering Concept Review was held at Natick Laboratories. The concept approved at the meeting was for an individual equipment belt to be supported by individual equipment suspenders, to which could be attached component items such as small arms ammunition cases, water canteen covers, entrenching tool carriers, field first aid dressing cases, etc. A field pack somewhat larger than the M-1961 cotton canvas duck field pack was proposed which could be attached for carrying either on the individual equipment belt at the small of the back, or on the shoulders attached to the individual equipment belt suspenders, or attached to a detachable field pack frame. The field pack frame with shoulder straps and a removable cargo shelf would be designed to be worn over the individual equipment belt and suspenders. The end result of this meeting was the adoption of the nylon M-1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE). The field pack design was rejected in the end and a nylon version of the M-1961 field pack was produced instead along with the nylon Tropical Rucksack (FSN 8465-935-6673). 1968–1969 Even after the adoption of the MLCE in 1967, developments continued under the LINCLOE program. The MLCE was envisioned for use strictly in tropical environments and the development of a standard load-carrying equipment system to replace all load-carrying equipment systems continued. During 1968, the LINCLOE program continued to refine the lightweight load-carrying system. A prototype system was designed utilizing some of the existing MLCE components such as the water canteen cover, small arms ammunition cases, and field first aid dressing case. The individual equipment belt buckle was replaced with a plastic version of the Davis quick-release buckle and a new Vest, Combat was developed to replace the individual equipment belt suspenders. Teams developed both a small and large field pack utilizing the detachable field pack frame concept scrapped in 1967. These prototype items were presented at a Design Characteristics Review And Prototype System Review held at Natick Laboratories 26 March 1968. It was recommended that an Engineering/Service Test [ET/ST] be carried out on this new load-carrying system design with the understanding that any design changes required be accomplished prior to testing and without another design review. In July 1969, test items presented at the 1968 Natick meeting and manufactured by the United States Army Support Center in Richmond, Virginia, under the supervision of Natick Laboratories personnel, were sent to the United States Army Infantry Board [USAIB], Fort Benning, Georgia; United States Army Tropical Test Center (USATTC), Fort Clayton, Panama Canal Zone; United States Army Arctic Test Center (USAATC), Fort Greely, Alaska; and the General Equipment Test Activity (GETA), Fort Lee, Virginia. Some of the test items differed significantly from those presented at the 1968 meeting. The major changes were as follows: Belt, Individual Equipment - The individual equipment belt was changed by eliminating the center row of eyelets and replacing the single-end hook adjustments at each end with double-end hook adjustments which engaged in the two outside rows of eyelets for size adjustment. Vest, Combat - The closure devices utilized [originally plastic snap fasteners and hook and loop pile] on the Vest, Combat failed during preliminary testing and were replaced by plastic quick-release fasteners. Carrier, Entrenching Tool - The M-1967 nylon Entrenching tool carrier was replaced by a molded one manufactured from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). Case, Field First Aid Dressing - The field first aid dressing case utilized plastic belt-strap keepers which replaced the standard steel M-1956 belt-strap keepers. Cover, Water Canteen - The water canteen cover utilized plastic belt-strap keepers that replaced the standard steel M-1956 belt-strap keepers. Testing of this new load-carrying system, known as the LINCLOE Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE), began in July 1969 at Fort Benning; September 1969 at Fort Clayton; October 1969 at Fort Greely; and November 1969 at Fort Lee. On 19 July 1969, the Infantry Team (composed of the Commanding General, Fort Benning; Commanding General of the Infantry School; Commanding Officer of the Combat Developments Command Infantry Agency; and the Commanding Officer of the Infantry Board) met at Fort Benning to discuss improvement of infantry items of individual clothing and equipment. They invited the LINCLOE LCE Project Officer from Natick Laboratories to attend this meeting and present the status of load-carrying equipment items. The Commanding General at Fort Benning was unaware of the effort underway to improve the load-carrying equipment as well as other items of individual clothing and equipment. As a result of the LINCLOE LCE Project Officer's attendance at this meeting, the group established a Non-commissioned Officers (NCO) Board to suggest improvements to load-carrying equipment items. The NCO Board reviewed the LINCLOE LCE under test as well as the MLCE being provided to troops in Vietnam and arrived at characteristics which they considered desirable. As testing of the LINCLOE LCE continued a number of failures began to occur mostly to do with closure devices; plastic snap fasteners were still being utilized like those initially utilized on MLCE items. By December 1969, all testing stopped for re-evaluation of the components of the new load-carrying system. 1970–1971 In January 1970, the Infantry Board completed the evaluation of the load-carrying equipment, and on 17 March 1970, they held a conference at Fort Benning to review the results of the evaluation. They discussed each item evaluated, and agreed as to the acceptable changes to each load-carrying equipment item. They also agreed that the test of the first-generation LINCLOE LCE should be stopped and new items be designed to reflect the characteristics developed as a result of the evaluations by the NCO Board and Infantry Team. In a letter to United States Army Materiel Command dated 15 April 1970, United States Army Combat Developments Command described the next generation of LINCLOE LCE for service testing based on the agreements of the 17 March 1970 meeting. The following items were recommended when modified as indicated: Belt, Individual Equipment - Design as furnished for evaluation with two (one upper and one lower) rows of eyelets and aluminum quick-release buckle. Also with new clinch-buckle size adjustment system. Suspenders, Individual Equipment Belt - M-1967 design but with single support/attachment strap in rear. The Vest, Combat was eliminated from the program due to being over-complicated and prone to failure. Carrier, Entrenching Tool - molded EVA version but utilizing metal snap closures (instead of plastic). Case, Field First Aid Dressing - Enlarged version of the M-1967 design capable of holding two field first aid dressings. Also with metal snap closures (instead of plastic). Case, Small Arms Ammunition - M-1967 30-round cartridge magazine design but with support strap replaced with eyelet (to attach to individual equipment belt suspenders). Also internal divider flaps to keep cartridge magazines separated and different method of attaching hand grenades to the sides. Cover, Water Canteen - M-1967 design but utilizing metal snap closures (instead of plastic). Also without pile lining and openings at the bottom to allow for drainage. Also proposed in the letter were improved versions of the small and large field pack and field pack frame. During April and June 1970, teams fabricated a prototype system of load-carrying equipment as described in the 15 April 1970 letter. They presented this set of load-carrying equipment to the NCO Board and Infantry Team for review at Fort Benning on 18–19 June 1970. On 29 July 1970, representatives from the United States Army Combat Developments Command and the LINCLOE LCE Project Officer met at Natick Laboratories and drafted a revision of the LINCLOE LCE Quantitative Material Requirement as it pertained to load-carrying equipment including the characteristics for each individual item. This was based primarily on the outcome of the 17 March 1970 meeting with one major exception. The LINCLOE LCE Project Officer a third field pack to the system. This was the medium field pack with a bag made from the nylon tropical rucksack, modified to meet the NCO Board requirements for a small field pack by adapting it to be worn on the back with or without a field pack frame. On 5 October 1970, a Design Characteristics Review And Prototype System Review was held at Natick Laboratories concerning the new LINCLOE LCE. The group approved Quantitative Material Requirement for the new second-generation LINCLOE LCE with minor changes. Natick Laboratories fabricated fifteen sets of the second-generation LINCLOE LCE and shipped them to Army European Headquarters (USAREUR) 17 November 1970 for evaluation. In December 1970, the United States Army Support Center, Virginia fabricated an additional 300 sets of the second-generation LINCLOE LCE and sent them to Natick Laboratories for assembly and shipment to test sites. In August 1971, the test sets were sent to Fort Benning, Fort Greely, Fort Devens, and, as requested, to the Marine Corps at Quantico. Pre-test inspections uncovered a number of deficiencies with the field packs which were returned to Natick Laboratories for modification. The modified items went back to the test sites in November 1971 and the service test began. 1972–1973 By March 1972, so many deficiencies and shortcomings had developed in the load-carrying equipment that the United States Army Test And Evaluation Command requested that the test at Fort Benning be suspended until test items could be repaired or replaced. Officials held a meeting at Fort Benning on 6 April 1972 to discuss the failures. In their discussions, they agreed that Natick Laboratories would take action to correct the problems so the tests could resume 9 June 1972. Most deficiencies were found in field packs, users asked that the inner flaps on the small arms ammunition cases be removed as they impeded the rapid removal of cartridge magazines. Developers replaced these with simple strips of nylon fabric to divide the cartridge magazines. At some point during 1971 the Marine Corps found that the small arms ammunition case with the divider flaps was acceptable and initiated acceptance procedures. On 31 January 1972, the army issued military specification MIL-C-28981(MC) and these small arms ammunition cases were type classified and assigned the Federal Stock Number 8465-464-2084. The Defense Support Agency (DSA) issued contracts for the item for fiscal year 1973. Natick Laboratories completed the modifications of the test items and military aircraft transported them to Fort Benning 1 June 1972, but testing did not resume until 3 July 1972. Testing finished 18 August 1972 and the final report was received on 24 November 1972. As a result of the test, the Infantry Board recommended that no further development effort be expended on the load-carrying equipment as a system. On 31 October 1972, representatives from Natick Laboratories visited Fort Benning to discuss the problems which appeared during the testing of each item and to arrive at a decision whether to continue development of each item. Prior to these final meetings the LINCLOE LCE components had been type classified and assigned Federal Stock Numbers as follows: Belt, Individual Equipment - 8465-001-6487 (large), 8465-001-6488 (medium) Carrier, Entrenching Tool - 8465-001-6474 Case, Field First Aid Dressing - 8465-001-6473 Case, Small Arms Ammunition - 8465-001-6482 Cover, Water Canteen - 8465-001-6472 Suspenders, Individual Equipment Belt - 8465-001-6471 The three field packs were also type classified and assigned Federal Stock Numbers: Field Pack - 8465-001-6479 - small Field Pack - 8465-001-6480 - medium Field Pack - 8465-001-6481 - large After the final meetings, the group proposed the following changes prior to manufacture: Belt, Individual Equipment - Adopted; but with the standard buckle. The test item had been equipped with the Davis two-piece aluminum buckle which provided a quick-release capability. Suspenders, Individual Equipment Belt - Adopt a set of individual equipment belt suspenders similar in design to those tested, but modified to increase adjustability by four inches. Carrier, Entrenching Tool - Adopted Case, Field First Aid Dressing - The panel rejected the test item and retained the M-1967 version. The adopted characteristics required that this item to be of sufficient size to carry two field first aid dressings. The panel determined that the M-1967 version, that accommodated one field first aid dressing, was acceptable. Case, Small Arms Ammunition - The group adopted the small arms ammunition case as tested without the internal divider flaps. Cover, Water Canteen - The group rejected the test item and retained the M-1967 nylon water canteen cover modified by stiffening the closing flaps so that they would not collapse and interfere with the insertion of the water canteen; to enlarge the water canteen cover somewhat for easier insertion and extraction of the water canteen cup; to add a reinforcement band to the inside of the water canteen cover to help prevent the lip of the water canteen cup from rubbing through; and add a grommet drain hole in the bottom. As requested by the NCO Board, the test cover was made without a pile liner, whose purpose was to provide evaporative cooling, and with openings in the bottom to provide better drainage and to make extraction of the water canteen cup easier. However, the test indicated that the pile liner added shape to the water canteen cover and kept it from collapsing completely when empty, making insertion of the water canteen cup much easier. The tests also determined that the openings in the bottom constituted a camouflage hazard as the metal of the water canteen cup bottom was exposed. The group accepted the medium and large field packs with minor modifications but rejected the small field pack as unnecessary. Retesting of the modified medium and large field packs were conducted at Fort Benning during 27 November through 18 December 1972. The tests showed that the deficiencies and shortcomings of the field packs previously reported had been corrected. The formal Development Acceptance (DEVA) review on the LINCLOE LCE occurred at Natick Laboratories 17 January 1973. The panel members agreed, by consensus, that the components be type classified as Standard A. After acceptance, the individual equipment system was given the designation M-1972 Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (LLCE). The Defense Support Agency (DSA) began issuing contracts for the components of the new individual equipment system for fiscal year 1974, which began 1 July 1973. After the DSA issued the initial contracts, the individual equipment system was re-designated All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) and the use of year-model designations officially ceased.