PLCE replaced 58 Pattern Webbing after the Vietnam War. The British Army following the United States replacement and introduction of ALICE introduced the PLCE. 58 Pattern Webbing was replaced to overcome the issues associated with canvas in damp climates as it gets heavy when wet. The first PLCE appeared around 1988 in Olive Green. The purpose of the PLCE is to hold everything a soldier needs to operate for 48 hours. The PLCE carries ammunition/weapon ancillaries, food, water, cooking utensils and means to cook, communication equipment, NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection, waterproof clothing and first aid kit.
The Infantry Trials and Development Unit of the British Army divided PLCE into 3 orders of dress:
I. Assault order- consists of the essentials: ammunition and water bottle pouches, helmet and clothing for operations and patrols of only short duration.
II. Combat order- is assault order with the means of storage for rations and personal equipment to enable a soldier to live and fight for 24 hours. Additionally,
the patrol pack is used by many units and individual soldiers instead of a side pouch as it is larger and more convenient.
III. Marching order- is combat order plus rucksack and is load which will be required for an operation of up to two weeks’ duration without resupplying except
ammunition, ration and water.
The basis of the PLCE is the belt; it has 2 D-rings at the back (to attach to the yoke) and many rows of narrow vertical slots sewn into it (for the pouches). The standard issue kit is two double ammunition pouches, water bottle pouch, utility pouch and bayonet frog. PLCE facilitate addition of loose pouches. The pouches are closed with “Spanish Tabs” which are secure and quick to open.