UPDATED 23 January 2011


Wednesday, January 10, 1996

"When your only tool is a hammer, every problem resembles a nail."


Our current system of TA-50, the "ALICE" system is held together by metal hardware: clips and metal snaps which gouge into the Soldier, snag and can kill. During an offshore exercise off Australia a few years ago a McGrunt died when his Rigid Raider (AKA RRC or Boston Whaler) overturned when it hit a sand bar not shown on a nautical map--he was wearing fully loaded ALICE gear and got snagged under the overturned boat.

These clips are also notorious for breaking under sttress resulting in lost gear falling into the hands of the enemy to use or make booby-traps to kill our men.


Many U.S. Army Long Range Surveillance (LRS) unit members secure/silence their LBE with 550 parachute cord to connect canteens and pouches to eliminate the painful gouging of the metal ALICE clips since they carry loads routinely in excess of 100 pounds. Many Soldiers also use black plastic electrical "tyton" ties to attach their pouches to TA-50 belts, rucksacks. Be sure to use the strongest weight rating possible and to carry extras in case you want to reconfigure your pouches. Tyton ties are supposed to be cut for removal, though you can with a small penknife point life up on the locking tab to unfasten the tie. If you do this too often, the locking tab weakens and can't hold the tie together. These techniques are not "pretty" but they work: Murphy's Law of Combat: "If it looks stupid and it works, it ain't stupid".

Holster using tyton "zip ties" to attach to a belt


The ultimate solution is reported to be in the works at U.S. Army's Natick Labs--a "soft-snap" system built into the pouch "reverse-engineered" from a hapless web gear maker's idea. ITW Nexus of Waterbury, CT has an indestructible (they make Fastex(c) Buckles) plastic clip that could replace Metal ALICE clips without having to buy new pouches with sewn-in fastening systems like "Soft-Snap(c)" but this approach is in disfavor for some unknown reason. For years USN SEALS have taken their web gear off-post and had nylon loops sewn to eliminate ALICE clips since they think ahead about small boat turn-overs unlike the robotic McJarheads.

Whatever we decide to do we need to do it soon to improve the safety of Airborne and amphibious operations as well as prevent Soldiers from setting off magetic mines. As much of the Soldier's equipment as possible needs to be non-metallic to evade enemy ground/air surveillance radars so they don't become taget dots on an enemy "J-Stars" type screen. Sensor technologies are proliferating world-wide. Note in the photo how the butt pack has Fastex(c) buckles so SEALs can access it for contents with one hand while being worn-extra fifle magazines could be stored there for use in a firefight--they should be plastic types like the Canadian Army's long-term storage capable Thermold(c) 30 rounders but that is another topic for another AES article.



Since this article was written, the entire U.S. Army has gone away from metal ALICE clips to MOLLE PALS webbing to attach pouches. Finally.



Another option is MALICE clips which are like giant versions of plastic zip ties to lace through PALS WEBBING on your load bearing vests or rucksacks etc. to attach pouches.

The 'little things' count in a big way

Want Pvt Murphy in your pocket?

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