Now tradition in the British Army is why you stand, when other nations dont. Its why you get a lump in your throat when the last post is played, and why your mess is full of Silver Cigarette cases with the motif of two dead crossed Frenchmen on a mound of dead Frenchmen. But some traditions hamper the future. The tradition in the British Army of Going Ugly Early, the Cant do of some stores CQMS who wont part with gear you need for ops or even training, and PLCE are amongst these barriers to progress. Now PLCE is a fantastic bit of kit for its day, but then so was the 1912 Pattern Cavalry Sword. It doesnt mean that we should re-equip with them for Company attacks. Those Bosnia generation SNCOs now cluttering up the training wing swear by PLCE, saying it allows you to literally crawl on your belt buckle, and the weight carrying capacity beats all these mod con pouches any day.
There is a strain of modern thought now creeping through - people are going to have to get used to lying in the prone with a bunch of pouches strapped to their chests anyway. Osprey isnt going away, neither is MOLLE, they field tested Chest Rigs on the Doris Platoon at RMAS a few years back to avoid webbing impact on female hips. The days of HeliBedford to a DOP 10 miles from the FLOT followed by a quick jogette to the front are over for the present time. Youre travelling by AIFV, Wocca Woccas or Mastiff 2. What I wanted was the best of both worlds. A PLCE style belt kit with Molle straps; so I can tailor my webbing to my needs and add pouches to my Body Armour when ditching the webbing. I wanted this combined with the Chest Rigging facility to add extra pouches to my front. The belt kit bit is easy by swapping out the standard webbing belt for a Molle one, the chest rig bit is a different boiling vessel of poisons. Thankfully Dragon supplies have come up with the goods - a well designed Patrol Yoke that gives you a Molle facility with normal belt kit.
I have to admit that when I first received this it was missing a buckle it hadnt even been stitched on. I phoned up Dragon Supplies and they immediately promised to rectify the issue. I got the problem solved by return of post. So I can heartily recommend their customer service. Things go wrong occasionally, but if they are fixed with skill and efficiency I will use them again, which is what Dragon supplies did. The piece of kit itself is an excellent design. The main thing about it before getting down to brass tacks is how solid a piece of kit it is. The Multicam canvas it is made of is incredibly tough. Furthermore it is fully adjustable and the 3 pieces it is made up of are all designed so it fits like a glove. I like the fact that this piece of kit can grow a lot to allow it to fit body armour on the outside, but to be honest you will probably switch this out when wearing Osprey. A minor quibble is that I would have liked another couple of inches of strap where the bottom of the vest links into the belt kit.
The Mesh vest at the back with Molle strapping is ideal for fitting a hydration pouch and allows the back to breathe when not using the back straps. The mesh is found on the inside throughout except round load carrying areas like the shoulders. The shoulder straps are nice and thick to allow the weight of the kit to be distributed more evenly, they are also padded. The shoulder straps are fully adjustable and feel indestructible; an issue could be that they interfere with the butt of your rifle unless you wiggle round them. Blackhawk vests are padded on the right shoulder, perhaps for future marks of this yoke Dragon could add this facility by running the straps underneath this?
But the best part of this design (other than it being very adjustable) is the front. There are two great full length zip pockets for stowing Maps/Binoculars/Grot in them, and the Molle on the front are perfect for those important to have at hand pouches. Ive stuck a Willie Pete Pouch and an L109A1 pouch on the front, and theres room for more. The world is your Oyster as long as your world consists of Molle pouches 4 long and 2 deep with a couple of 2x2 grenade pouches.
All in all a very useful and well built piece of kit that is worth having with some top notch customer service behind it. I could see the Badge looking at it rather intently before its inherent Alliness (and the fact he was a month from retirement) swayed him into ignoring the no MTP in the UK directive from some prick working on his OBE.