How to Alternate your ILCE

Compass pouch

The compass pouch under the standard ILCE system is normally secured on the pistol belt to the front or on the side of the right ammo pouch. The single clip on the back allows it to be secured almost anywhere. In Vietnam it was often positioned on the left suspender webbing attachment. Try it on the buttpack or even the helmet band. There is no reason why you cannot have several compass pouches on your webbing, since it can carry a compass, bandage and is just the right size for a 20 round magazine. This Air Cavalry re-enactor (Pictured below) wears the standard ‘System’ with the compass pouch on the left shoulder away from the side he would fire from. Notice his empty bandolier, characteristic of a recent battle.


Most Vietnam re-enactors carry at least 2 canteens on their webbing. Where you attach it is down to personal choice. I secure mine either side of my lightweight tropical rucksack, hooked on with the ALICE clips and secured from flapping by the straps attached at that point on the ruck. The other common position is directly on side webbing of the buttpack or on the web belt on either side of the butt pack. If you carry more than two they can be positioned all around the pistol belt, even replacing the ammo pouches or on buttpack carrying handle. The alternative to carrying several canteens is using a 2 qt collapsible instead. You can carry the same amount of water taking up less space, and it allows for more equipment. The trooper in the picture below is carrying 2, 1QT canteens on the rear of his pistol belt next to a M1956 ammo pouch. He also has a jungle first aid kit attached high up on his suspenders.

Ammo Pouches

Ammo pouches are positioned on front by most re-enactors, some carry up to 4. I have two on my web belt carried front on left and right sides. This makes for some comfort when you are firing from the prone position. In light combat conditions you could do away with the buttpack and position one between your two canteens or around on the hips.


The E-tool is heavy and bulky and a pain in the butt. In the standard configuration it is worn on the left hip. But you will find some re-enactors wearing it on either the left or right hip next to the buttpack, or on the buttpack-carrying handle. If you have it on the hip, I find it better to counter-balance the weight with a canteen or two on the other hip. The USMC carry theirs on their havarsack high on the back which makes a comfortable position. For the US Army system you can do this by securing the e-tool on the buttpack carrying handle and positioning it on the shoulders with the buttpack adaptor. This is not very secure. The re-enactor pictured below left wears his on the left hip with a bayonet attached to the E-tool cover. Alternatively the grunt pictured below center wears his on the right with his bayonet hanging between beside the buttpack. The USMC soldier below right wears his E-tool in the standard layout attached to his havasack. Note the grenade carrier on the side of the havasack and the extra first aid/compass pouch hanging off his jungle first aid kit.

Bayonet, KA-bar & Machete

If you carry a bayonet there are many ways of doing so. If you carry an e-tool with M1956 cover then it has a bayonet scabbard attachment on it. Otherwise it can be hung anywhere on the pistol belt or on the webbing eyelets on the side of the buttpack. The KA-bar knife strictly speaking is a USMC item, but was worn by the Army. This was commonly worn behind the pistol holster or on one of the hips to the rear. Many re-enactors wear them upside down on the suspenders and taped into position. Whether this was commonly carried like this in Vietnam is debatable, though nothing is outside the realm of possibility. Individual preference is the deciding factor in a lot of the equipment placement in a combat environment. What works best for the troop and he believes will help keep him alive and combat effective. The machete is not often worn on the ILCE because of its size and awkwardness. The only position, which works well, is on the webbing eyelets of the buttpack or on the eyelets located on the top horizontal strap on the lightweight tropical rucksack frame.

Pistol Holster

If you wear a pistol holster it can only be worn on the right side of the pistol belt, unless you have a shoulder holster. You will also need a .45 magazine pouch. Most re-enactors position this between the ammo pouch and the belt clip. But it can go almost anywhere you feel it gives you best access. This grenadier (Pictured below) carries his holster on the right side and his magazine pouch is situated right in front for quick access.

Gas Mask

You can only wear it on the leg like it says in the manual or sling it over your shoulder. This re-enactor (Below) is wearing his in the correct way but higher up above the pistol belt. Note he wears a M1967 flak jacket but with the ballistic lining removed, not recomended for the reenactor as it serves no purpose this way and looks really bad in the process. If you are going to wear it, then wear it right.

3 responses to “How to Alternate your ILCE

  1. Mike Safety

    Very informative and useful. Thank you.

  2. David

    I’m military fan, actually like LICE system than other equipments.

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