U.S. Soldier's Web Gear: Vietnam and Recent
Early in the Vietnam War, the M1956 Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment was in use, with webbing and canvas made from cotton. In 1967 a new set of equipment was delivered to the troops in Vietnam, updated with nylon and other resistant materials to handle the jungle conditons of wetness, heat, and mildew. Velcro "hook and pile" fasteners were introduced to replace expensive and trouble-prone snaps, LTD fasteners, and zippers.
Cover Illustration, FM 21-15, Care and Use of Individual Clothing and Equipment, 15 February 1977.
M1967 Individual Load-Carrying Equipment
The M1967 Individual Load Carrying Equipment (called Modernized Load Carrying Equipment MLCE) did not differ much from the M1956 Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment, and did not immediately replace it since all items were interchangable. The crucial change was that the M1967 equipment used new matierals:
- nylon replaced all remaining cotton webbing items
- aluminum or plastic replaced steel or brass hardware, where possible
- "Hook and Pile" fasteners (Velcro) were used wherever practical to replace zippers or snaps
On the equipment belt, the classic metal tab closure was replaced by the black metal, quick release "Davis buckle". Ammo pouches also got a plastic clip fastener and were made shorter to match the 5.56mm ammunition clips for the M16 rifle. The M1967 nylon intrenching tool cover with plastic clip fastener was provided for the new tri-fold tool. The back pack and other components had small improvements and changes in addition to the changes in materials. The First Aid Case/Compass Pouch was styled the same as the M-1956 with the same keeper and snap but made of nylon (NSN 8465-00-935-6814). This form was carried forward unchanged to become the LC-1 Alice pouch and was still being procured in 2005. [Thanks to Jarkko Lahtinen for help with this section.]
Vietnam and Later U.S. Web Gear
The time period of the main U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (early 1960s to 1975) spanned the use of all of the equipment from the M1956 LCE to the All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) introduced in 1974. It was common to see men in the same unit with mixtures of the equipment, even on the same individual. After 1975, the ALICE system replaced the Individual Equipment Belt suspenders and the backpack while the other items of M1967 nylon gear continued to be used. Vietnam-era Individual Equipment Belts differ from ALICE and later belts in that it has three rows of grommets. Many of the eqipment items were still in use in Afghanistan and Iraq, although often in the new camouflage colors or desert sand.
New systems of Load Bearing Equipment were introduced to replace the aging ALICE design:
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