The start of the Vietnam War brought about many changes. Fighting in a new environment required new military equipment and a new way for the ground solider to carry this equipment.
The ALICE or All-purpose Individual Carrying Equipment became a United States Army standard issue in January 1972. Used to replace the m-1956 Loade-carrying Equipment, ALICE was the result of the lightweight individual clothing and equipment program or LINCOLE. The mission of LINCOLE was to design and develop a lightweight load-carrying system for the American combat solider. Natick laboratories developed the system with a lighter more waterproof backpack.
The ALICE system had two configurations a fighting load and an existence load. These were designed so the solider could carry only equipment needed to complete the primary mission objective.
The fighting load consisted of an Individual equipment belt with suspenders, an entrenching tool carrier, field first aid dressing case, canteen cover, and small arms ammunition case. Problems with the small arms ammunition case caused a redesign to be necessary because the flap impeded the removal of magazines. The fighting load was used for missions where soldiers were only a field for a short period of time.
The existence load was use for extended deployments. This load gave the solider the ability to carry items that were necessary for environmental or personal protection. These items were carried in conjunction with the fighting load.
The existence load comprised of a field pack with an aluminum frame it came in either large or medium size. A cargo support shelf made from aluminum use to carry bulky items. The system also came with webbing straps one for each shoulder, a waist strap, lower back strap, and a cargo strap.
The ALICE pack system went through many variations through out its carrier. It was phased out and replaced by the MOLLE system in the early 1990s.