Operational Medicine Medical Education and Training

MOLLE (Mike) Bag, Surgical Instrument Set and Morphine

Recently, the Army and the Marine Corps developed a replacement for the Unit One, called the "MOLLE Medic Bag." MOLLE is an acronym for "Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment" and is often referred to as the "Mike Bag."

MOLLE Medic Bag

MOLLE (Mike) Bag, Surgical Instrument Set and Morphine

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The MOLLE Medic Bag system consists of a backpack, with a right and left detachable internal pockets, an IV Bandoleer, and 8 external pouches. Four of the pouches can attach to the backpack and 4 attach to the MOLLE vest.

The three great strengths of the MOLLE Medic Bag are:

  • Increased Capacity - May be configured for up to 1576 cubic inches.

  • Increased Capability - Supplies for more advanced levels of care.

  • Increased Flexibility - May be configured for specific operational needs.

The three great challenges of the MOLLE Medic Bag are:

  • Increased Capacity - When configured for the full 1576 cubic inches, the MOLLE Medic Bag weighs about 27 pounds. This can limit the mobility and endurance of the corpsman/medic, particularly in hot weather.

  • Increased Capability - Not all standard medical supplies are appropriate for all levels of corpsmen and medics.

  • Increased Flexibility - Command guidance is necessary prior to each mission to assure appropriate bag configuration and quantities of medical supplies.

While there are nearly limitless ways of configuring the MOLLE Medic Bag, one standard configuration involves identifying three basic mission profiles: LIGHT, MEDIUM, AND HEAVY.

LIGHT MISSIONS (Vest Pouches Only)

  • 1-3 days duration

  • Light or no casualties expected

  • MEDEVAC readily available with fast response

  • Resupply readily available

  • Lightest Load (about 8 pounds)

  • Greatest Mobility

  • Modest Medical Capability

MEDIUM MISSIONS (Vest Pouches, Back Pack)

  • 4-14 days duration

  • Up to moderate casualties expected

  • MEDEVAC availability more limited

  • Resupply more limited

  • Medium Load (about 18 pounds)

  • Moderate Mobility

  • Moderate Medical Capability (IV's, Diagnostics)

HEAVY MISSIONS (Vest Pouches, Back Pack, Bag Pouches, IV Bandoleer)

  • >14 days duration

  • Up to heavy casualties expected

  • MEDEVAC availability limited or periodically unavailable

  • Resupply limited or unpredictable

  • Heavy Load (about 26 pounds)

  • Least Mobility

  • Greatest Medical Capability (IV's, Diagnostics, Quantity of supplies)

Using this model, the medical commander would first determine the basic mission profile, then add additional components or remove components from the basic load. For example, the MEDIUM MISSION LOAD weighs about 18 pounds, but could be 3 pounds lighter if IV capability is not needed at the corpsman/medic level.


HM1 (SW/FMF) LeRoy
Field Medical Service School
MCB, Camp Pendelton, CA
7 Feb 2000




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