A new pack should soon bring a smile to the face of Marine Corps infantrymen after months of field assessment by units from around the Corps.
Two commercial off-the-shelf models and the latest version of MOLLE were the load-bearing systems evaluated in the selection process that lasted from January to June of 2003 and included Marines who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"All three systems were tested down to the platoon level so we could assure that they were all subject to the same conditions," said Capt. Dave Pinion, the improved load-bearing system project officer.
"The new packs are much more simple to use and will be a great piece of gear but it is important to make sure the Marines take the time to learn to use it, like any new piece of equipment," said Maj. Matt Baker, executive officer 3rd Bn. 4th Marines, Twentynine Palms, Calif., whose Marines took the packs to Iraq.
"Marine leaders need to learn to use it and then train their Marines how to use it properly."
The new systems was selected in June 2003 and consists of an internal frame main ruck holding approximately 4500 cubic inches, a patrol pack of 1500 cubic inches and a 100 ounce tubular drinking system. The pack will also hold mortar rounds outside the main pack without interfering with movement.
"This pack had strengths that the others did not," said Pinion in reference to the contract award. "It was modified to fit Marine Corps' needs, but this is essentially a high-quality pack you could buy off the shelf at a sporting goods store."
The first production units will begin shipping no later than January 2004 and the Marine Requirements Oversight Council will determine fielding requirements.
Marine Corps Systems Command is currently soliciting names for the new load-bearing system from Marines in the Fleet Marine and Reserve Forces. Suggested names can be sent to NAMETHATPACK@MCSC.USMC.MIL .