I kit bashed this bad boy together myself after failing to find anything on the market that met the requirements I was looking for. It is essentially an updated and upgraded form of the old-school Load Carrying Equipment or LCE. Taking my personal experience into account from Iraq and Afghanistan and combining them with the military theory of people like H.J. Poole and William Lind, I then incorporated what I’ve learned from studying military history, particularly, the Vietnam War and the Rhodesian Bush War.
Today, soldiers are weighed down with far to much equipment. This is an issue I’ve addressed in this blog before, as have others, and I’m not going to rehash it again at this time. We wear heavy, cumbersome body armor that makes it difficult to maneuver, reducing our effectiveness as soldiers. The LCE served its purpose but needs to be taken into the 21st century. Chest Rigs are also great for many applications, but can become unsuitable when loaded to capacity, making it difficult to lay in the prone or crawl on the ground while under fire.
Before moving on, let me list the components used to put this gear together. It is built on a ENDOM’s CM Belt and Battle Suspenders.
The chest piece is built on a Tactical Tailor modular bib panel. Attached to the bib is a ATS triple magazine shingle and one single mag shingle for a total of four magazines. Mounted on the magazine shingles is a Kifaru admin pouch for holding various odds and ends such as maps, compass, GPS, ect.
Attached to the back of the suspenders via Malice clips and some lengths of nylon is hydration pouch.
On the belt, to the six o’ clock position, under the hydration pouch, is a horizontal Tactical Tailor E&E pouch containing basic survival items. On the left hand side of the belts is a Eagle double magazine pouch for .45 mags, located near the belt buckle for easy access. Behind that is a Bench made fixed-blade knife, and Maxpedition dump pouch.
On the right hand side of the belt is a double grenade pouch, a modified Safariland drop holster, and ATS medical pouch.
Doing some field testing, I would go for kit runs wearing everything seen here and running for several miles across varied terrain to make sure everything felt right and functioned properly. While running I found that the front panel bounced up and down quite a bit, slamming down on my stomach and becoming fairly painful after a couple miles. For this reason I added the horizontal strap you see under my arm pit that connects the front bib to the hydration pouch. This strap has the effect of tightening down the entire rig for a closer fit, making it ride much more comfortably.
What I was looking for in the design was something I couldn’t find commercially. I wanted a modernized LCE, something that was light weight and facilitated maneuver and unconventional warfare to include infiltrations. When it comes to the latter, I’ve found that when chest rigs are filled to capacity that it becomes difficult or impossible to high crawl or low crawl, the same goes for plate carriers.
Later, I did feel the need to add more than what you would expect from a simple LCE. There was some modern kit that is so useful that I felt I had to include it. Sure, expended magazines can simply be dumped down the front of your shirt, but a dump pouch sure helps and also gives you the ability to carry extra mags in it during an emergency or use it to carry intel taken off dead enemy. Likewise, I felt that a modern medical pouch is something you don’t want to compromise with. For a soldier operating behind enemy lines, a bare minimum of survival and Escape and Evasion gear is also needed, hence the horizontal E&E pouch. With all this space taken up from the get go, I found that I needed to attach a hydration pouch and a panel for extra magazines above the belt line.
All and all I am very happy with how this project turned out. I only wish that I had had the opportunity to use it in combat. If need be the straps can be loosened and soft armor or concealable body armor can be worn underneath making this rig even more versatile. Readers may be interested to know that this is the exact same rig described and used by Deckard, the protagonist in “Reflexive Fire”. I’ve also been working with the cover artist to ensure that the uniform and kit on the cover of the book matches what you see here exactly to maintain continuity as well as show readers something they’ve never seen before.
I’m sure that a professional could refine this design and sew something much better, whereas I had to cobble it together from spare parts. I think experienced soldiers are finding that less really is more and adopting a “combat ultra-light” mentality is the way to go. Sadly, the Brass doesn’t see things the same way. Until then, lets hope some people run with this idea and see where it goes!