In the last decade of war, a lot of new technologies have emerged for our warfighters. Up armored vehicles, electronic counter measures, advanced night vision devices, UAV drones (Drone Strike! would be an awesome band name), small arms optics…these have all become common place in the services. They are increasing proficiency and saving American lives. Unfortunately there is a lot of common gear that’s been (and in some cases remains) lacking, gear that makes a difference to the man behind the gun.
From left to right: USMC ILBE, USMC “FILBE” aka “THE USMC PACK”, Blackhawk! MALICE, SpecOPShop LLC “Son of ALICE” prototype ruck, and Gregory USSOCOM issued UC-21 “SPEAR” system Pack.
Over the last few years, the USMC has been working on an improved rucksack for general issue. When the decision was made to deviate from the Vietnam-era ALICE system, our troubles began. The first “improved” pack was the MOLLE. It was a great idea, but horrible in execution. Load distribution was practically nonexistent, the plastic frame snapped like a dry twig on your first hump, and the attachment pouches were limited in application. In short, it was hated by all and instantly abandoned by those who could. Most specialized units continued to use commercially available packs, traditional large ALICE type “mountain” rucks, and other custom/ modified options. The MOLLE was replaced with the Marpat pattern ILBE, which did away with the external plastic frame in favor for a rigid internal frame, similar to what is used in many civilian backpacks. Once again, it was another unpopular choice made by higher ups that don’t patrol, let alone ruck distance under heavy load. It offers limited options for where/ how to carry your gear and is extremely difficult to use while wearing body armor.