The Marine Corps is moving forward with a plan to field at least 100,000 new packs beginning in 2012, replacing the existing Individual Load Bearing Equipment system that Marines have humped since 2004.

Marine Corps Systems Command, out of Quantico, Va., is evaluating potential ILBE replacements, and will call the next system the USMC Pack, officials said. The Corps recently accepted proposals from industry and wants 108,000 delivered within the first year of a contract award, with additional purchases likely.

The Corps has sought to replace the ILBE for more than a year after grunts graded it “completely unacceptable” in a recent survey. They said it doesn’t fit well on top of body armor and causes chaffing and pain in the back, knees and shoulders.

“The replacement system will strive to eliminate current integration issues between load carriage equipment and currently fielded body armor systems,” said 2nd Lt. Jamie Larson, a spokeswoman at SYSCOM. “The pack system will focus on the rifleman, emphasizing durability, comfort, ease of access and stability.”

This summer, the Corps conducted an evaluation at Camp Lejeune, N.C., with grunts from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, recommending that the ILBE’s replacement include a larger assault pack, pouches that are removable and adjustable, an external frame and a simpler design.

“The bottom line is, Marines want a simple and effective load carriage system that can be easily customized to support their mission, with or without body armor,” Larson said.

Source: Dan Lamothe for Military Times.

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