Modern American soldiers have a distinctive physical presence that is, in small part due to the unique shapes of the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-Carry Equipment) rucksacks they wear. Pronounced "Molly" this system was implemented shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, though it had been in development since the mid-1990's.
Design specs for the MOLLE came after in-depth research revealed that thin, commercially available backpacks provided more efficient, comfortable load bearing than the bulky ALICE (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) that had been in use by the military since the late 1960's.
And though the MOLLE was not specifically designed for the current Middle Eastern conflicts and deployments, the system is designed to minimize heat buildup on the soldier's body.
MOLLE is not a specific piece of equipment, like an ALICE backpack, but rather it is a modular system based on a load-bearing vest called the Fight Load Carrier (FLC). Various modules and tactical gear can be attached to the FLC, such as a pocket for a claymore mine or other mission specific modules.
The standard configuration includes pockets for two 30-round clips, two hand grenades, two hydration pouches and a water tube for on-the-go hydration.
Gear and modules are attached to the MOLLE by means of the MOLLE Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS). Designed by the US Army, PALS is a system of corresponding webbing that is designed to keep equipment such as knives and radios snugly and securely strapped to the soldier.
The MOLLE backpacks system is an evolving system and improvements are continuously refined and implemented based on post-deployment feedback. Some improvements to MOLLE have included lengthening shoulder straps to fit over body armour and lockable zippers that won't burst open.
Because of their design specs are based on comfortable civilian outdoor equipment and battled-tested, the MOLLE has proven to be a useful, adaptable system for armed forces facing a variety of deployment environments and missions.
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