American Web Equipment 1967 – 1991
(Europa Militaria No 37)
By C A Monroe and Craig Pickrall
Published by The Crowood Press (www.crowood.com)
RRP GBP £10.95
A very important issue that is often overlooked is the ability of military personnel to carry their equipment into action. Whilst on active service and during exercises military personnel will need to carry both fighting and existence loads. This is a critical issue for those troops who are parts of the “fighting teeth” and it is of great importance to the infantry, marines and Special Forces.
The ability of the soldier to carry loads dictates his efficiency. If he can’t carry the necessary equipment need to both fight and survive he will not pose a significant threat to the enemy. Therefore the design and study of the equipment needed to carry loads is significantly important.
The book charts the development of Load Carrying Equipment (LCE) from the Vietnam War to the early 1990’s. Prior to American involvement in South East Asia most of the LCE components used in US military service was based on cotton duck and web. The 1956 pattern LCE was issued to US Army ground troops in Vietnam and it proved to have many deficiencies. The lack of a suitable field pack and the unsuitability of cotton duck in tropical environments were the most dominant criticisms. The cotton duck absorbed water (even after treatment with water-repellent chemicals) causing the LCE to gain extra weight and once wet, the cotton duck required a long period to dry-out.
The solution to these problems came as the usage of nylon duck. This material was light in overall weight absorbed little water and rapidly dried once wet. This new LCE design was introduced in 1967 and this interesting book charts its development.
The main chapters of the book start with a discussion of the 1956 pattern LCE and its deficiencies are specifically detailed. The design of the 1956 components are noted and amply illustrated. Next the 1967 pattern is described and the differences between the 1956 and the 1967 patterns are noted. The improvements of the 1967 pattern are also presented.
The chapter on Lightweight Individual Clothing and Equipment details the design of the components of the LCE. Items such as the combat vest, the combat packs (and their accompanying frames), the belt, entrenching tool carrier, the water canteen holder and the vital ammunition carrying pockets etc are described in extreme details. A new standardised design was introduced in 1972 and this design was gradually enhanced from its introductory date until 1991. Finally the more modern “Integral Individual Fighting System” is considered.
This book will appeal to collectors of this type of militaria but perhaps its greatest contribution could come in the form of helping designers to improve upon LCE design and technology. The book is written in an “easy to read” style and it is an entertaining book for those interested in this form of militaria. The authors have conducted splendid research and their resulting book is exceptional.