Open main menu

The Ephod Combat Vest, also designated variously the A10 Model Infantry Load-bearing Rig, Individual Carrying Equipment, and "New style" Load Bearing Equipment, is a personal equipment system issued to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of the State of Israel since the mid-1970s. It replaced the modular-based 1950s "Old style" tan-khaki cotton canvas equipment (similar in design to the British Army's 58 pattern webbing) and a variety of load-carrying waistcoats and assault vests used by Israeli infantry and elite units during the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1967-1970 War of Attrition, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[1][2]

Contents

History and developmentEdit

The IDF load-bearing system or Ephod ("apron" or "avantail" in Hebrew) is the direct result of the long experience acquired over the years with the "commando web gear" originally worn by Israeli recon paratroopers during the War of Attrition, who made crude but comfortable Khaki or Olive Green waistcoats and assault vests incorporating many small canvas or Nylon pouches.[3][4][5] Known as the "New style" Load Bearing Equipment, the Ephod was designed by the Israeli private firm Rabintex Industries Ltd. of Herzeliya near Tel Aviv in 1975-76, who allegedly developed it from an American prototype.[6]

DescriptionEdit

The "New style" Load Bearing Equipment prototype presented in 1976 by Rabintex was made entirely of olive green (OG) Cordura-type nylon and consisted of wide unpadded shoulder straps or suspenders and an "X"-back harness or "yoke" system fitted with three chest/side and back panels fitted with a detachable foam-padded waist-band or "belt", secured at the front by two strap-and-buckle attachment loops. One novel feature of the Ephod is that his yoke spread the weight to be borne over the shoulders and was not secured to a conventional waist belt. His suspenders were joined in the area of the shoulder-blades by a lateral piece to which was stitched a rectangular web loop with eyelets for attaching a U.S.-type entrenching tool, a feature also found in the "Old style" web gear suspenders.

Another feature of the Ephod was his wide cushioned waist-band fitted at the back of the panels by snap buttons, which distributed the weight well all around the waist. Many Israeli soldiers in the field had found the canvas material of the IDF standard issue "Old style" web gear and the load they carried to be very uncomfortable, and so wore padding underneath the pistol belt and waist pouches;[7] this aspect was taken into consideration by the designers of the Ephod, who devised a unique system in which the ammunition pouches, the grenade carriers and other equipment rest on three foam pads tied together by parachute cord lacing at four points, allowing infinite adjustment to individual size.[8][9] Like the front extremities of the yoke, they were not secured to the cushioned waist-band but to the pouches instead.

The pouches came in three sets, left, right, and back. Each consists of a nylon base panel, in which a total of nine integral nylon pouches of five different sizes, comprising four large magazine pouches, two individual hand grenade carriers, one smoke grenade carrier, one First aid kit pouch and one rear pouch for carrying binoculars or night-vision equipment are stitched.[10] All pouch flaps are fitted with Velcro Hook-and-loop fastener strips reinforced by a single metal eyelet and the larger magazine pouches each had at the lower end a nylon frog with two eyelets for additional pouches fitted with US-type M1910 hooks. In addition, the Ephod's back panel has two and the chest/side panels four snap loops for attaching the "Old style" web pistol belt and two detachable canteen pouches.

Designed to be worn over a flak vest, the Ephod Combat Vest is usually worn rather high and it can be put on and off in one piece, like a jacket. Its magazine pouches can hold up to twelve M16, IMI Galil or AK-47 series magazines, along with additional pouches for medical equipment, 7.62mm FN MAG machine gun belts, 40mm rounds and attachments for packs.[11][12] The asymmetrical arrangement of ammunition of the Ephod allows maximum comfort when in firing position, providing the soldier with an elbow rest when holding his rifle.[13]

These characteristics made the Ephod an ingenious and versatile system, adaptable to the various needs of modern combat troops,[14] considered at the time by some specialists a revolutionary, imaginative design and the best in the world.[15]

Combat useEdit

Israeli serviceEdit

The Ephod made its operational début during the famous Entebbe raid in July 1976[16][17] and was introduced the following year into Israeli forces,[18] though its massive use by Israeli troops came only during the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.[19]

Latin AmericaEdit

 
Guatemalan paratroopers from the Parachute Brigade wearing the Ephod Combat Vest parade in Puerto San José, Guatemala.
 
An Ecuadorian Marine wearing an Ephod Combat Vest during an amphibious assault exercise (UNITAS).
 
Peruvian marines during a training exercise wearing Ephod Combat Vests and armed with the 7.62mm Galil AR.

Middle EastEdit

 
Lebanese Forces Infantryman armed with a M16A1 assault rifle and wearing a Ephod Combat Vest, Lebanon, late 1980s.
 
Amal militiaman wearing a captured Ephod Combat Vest firing his AK-47 assault rifle during skirmishes with Druze PLA irregulars on the Corniche-al-Mazraa road in West Beirut, 10 February 1987.
 
Armed Lebanese militiamen wearing locally-produced Ephod Combat Vests running for cover near the Crown Plaza Hotel on the Hamra district in Beirut during the 2008 conflict in Lebanon.
 
An example of a Palestinian-manufactured Ephod Combat Vest found at an Hamas weapons cache in northern Gaza, during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.

During the Lebanese Civil War, the pro-Israeli militias in Lebanon, the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF)[20][21][22] and the South Lebanon Army (SLA)[23] also began to receive the Ephod in substantial quantities to equip their troops at the late 1970s, with captured examples eventually finding their way into the hands of militiamen from other Lebanese factions throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Photographic evidence taken at the time do show the Israeli combat vest being used by fighters from the Christian Marada Brigade, the Shia Amal Movement and Hezbollah,[24] the Druze People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), the Lebanese Army[25] and even the Syrian Army Commando troops stationed in the Country. In fact, the Ephod vest proved so popular during the War that the Lebanese soon began producing an unlicensed local copy, which was adopted in the mid-1990s by the Lebanese Army as standard web gear for its infantry troops.[26]

Recently, Lebanese-produced Ephod vests have been encountered among regular soldiers of the Syrian Army and their adversaries of the Free Syrian Army and other rebel factions currently engaged in the ongoing civil war in Syria.

AsiaEdit

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) adopted in the 1980s-1990s the Ephod for its infantry, commando and special forces units equipped with the AKM assault rifle, who battled the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insurgency during the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009).

In the early to mid-1990s, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) began to adopt their own version of the Ephod, commonly known as the SBO, for its infantry units. Manufactured primarily by the Johsen Equipment Company of Singapore, the early models were direct copies of the original Israeli Combat Vest, featuring four large magazine pouches capable of accommodating eight 30-round M16 rifle magazines, two narrow side pouches meant to store pen flares, two hand grenade carriers, one smoke grenade carrier, and a small butt-pack with two smaller side pouches. Later models of the SBO combat vest replaced the metal size adjusters in the suspenders and side panels with plastic buckles, and featured larger magazine pouches designed to hold the new plastic magazines for the SAR 21 assault rifle which were more voluminous than those of the M16. The Ephod-based SBO continued to be issued to SAF infantry battalions until 2006-2007, when it was replaced a new model of Load bearing vest (LBV) based on the MOLLE/Pouch Attachment Ladder Systems (PALS).

EuropeEdit

 
Italian paratroopers from the 1st Carabinieri Regiment "Tuscania" on parade, equipped with Ephod vests.

The Italian Army adopted the Ephod in the early 1990s and issued it as standard web gear for the paratroopers of the Folgore Airborne Brigade deployed at the Iraqi Kurdistan in the cadre of Operation Provide Comfort on April-July 1991.[27] The pathfinder (Italian: Incursori) unit of the Folgore Brigade later employed the Ephod in combat when they participated in Operation Silver Back on April 1994, the joint multi-national effort to evacuate foreign nationals from Kigali, Rwanda's capital city, during the Rwandan Civil War.[28]

The French Armed Forces elite units of the Special Operations Command deployed to Rwanda in the cadre of Opération Turquoise on June-August 1994 were photographed wearing a unique set of Load Bearing Equipment remarkably similar in design to the Israeli Ephod Combat Vest.[29]

OperatorsEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Laffin & Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73 (1982), p. 12.
  2. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Forces since 1948 (1988), p. 57.
  3. ^ Laffin & Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73 (1982), p. 12.
  4. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Forces since 1948 (1988), p. 57.
  5. ^ D'Elia, Personal Load Carrying Equipment (1992), p. 38.
  6. ^ Laffin & Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73 (1982), p. 39.
  7. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Defense Forces since 1973 (1990), pp. 5; 52-53.
  8. ^ D'Elia, Personal Load Carrying Equipment (1992), p. 38.
  9. ^ Laffin & Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73 (1982), p. 38.
  10. ^ Laffin & Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73 (1982), p. 38.
  11. ^ Katz & Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84 (1985), p. 36.
  12. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Defense Forces since 1973 (1990), p. 49.
  13. ^ Katz & Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84 (1985), p. 36.
  14. ^ Katz & Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84 (1985), p. 36.
  15. ^ Laffin & Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73 (1982), p. 38.
  16. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.
  17. ^ Dunstan, Israel's Lighting Strike, The raid on Entebbe 1976 (2009), p. 33.
  18. ^ Katz & Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2 (1988), p. 36.
  19. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.
  20. ^ Katz & Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84 (1985), pp. 40-41.
  21. ^ Katz & Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2 (1988), pp. 46-47.
  22. ^ Micheletti and Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats (1989), pp. 12; 33-38.
  23. ^ Katz & Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2 (1988), p. 38.
  24. ^ Micheletti and Palmade, Israel-Palestine: L'appel aux armes (2000), pp. 69-73.
  25. ^ Micheletti and Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats (1989), pp. 26-31.
  26. ^ El-Assad, Landing Zone Lebanon (2007), p. 35.
  27. ^ Heraut, Italian Army's new gear – ready for the next century (1992), pp. 32-36.
  28. ^ Charlier, Rescuing Europeans from the Rwandan Civil War (1994), p. 17.
  29. ^ Micheletti, COS intervention in Rwanda (1994), pp. 42-47.
  30. ^ Rivet, La 8e Brigade de Montagne Argentine (1996), p. 41.
  31. ^ Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.

ReferencesEdit

  • David Campbell & Peter Dennis, Israeli Paratroopers 1954-2016, Elite series 224, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2018. ISBN 9781472827715
  • Éric Micheletti and Yves Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats, RAIDS magazine n.º41, October 1989 issue. ISSN 0769-4814 (in French)
  • Éric Micheletti, COS intervention in Rwanda, RAIDS Magazine, December 1994 Issue, Ian Allan Ltd. ISSN 0963-1852 (English Language edition)
  • Éric Micheletti and Jérôme Palmade, Israel-Palestine: L'appel aux armes, RAIDS magazine hors-serie nº2, Histoire & Collections, Paris 2000. (in French)
  • Giles Rivet, La 8e Brigade de Montagne Argentine, RAIDS magazine n.º122, Juillet 1996 issue. ISSN 0769-4814 (in French)
  • Robert D'Elia, Personal Load Carrying Equipment, RAIDS Magazine, May 1992 Issue, Ian Allan Ltd. ISSN 0963-1852 (English Language edition)
  • Jean-Pascal Heraut, Italian Army's new gear – ready for the next century, RAIDS Magazine, June 1992 Issue, Ian Allan Ltd. ISSN 0963-1852 (English Language edition)
  • John Laffin & Mike Chappell, The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-73, Men-at-Arms series 127, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1982. ISBN 0-85045-450-6
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84, Men-at-Arms series 165, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 0-85045-602-9
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2, Men-at-Arms series 194, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1988. ISBN 0-85045-800-5
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Israeli Elite Forces since 1948, Elite series 18, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1988. ISBN 0-85045-837-4
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Israeli Defense Forces since 1973, Elite series 8, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1990. ISBN 0-85045-687-8
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Battleground Lebanon, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1990. ISBN 962-361-003-3
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Israel's Cutting Edge (1005), Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1990. ISBN 962-361-005-X
  • Samuel M. Katz, Tools of the Trade – The Weapons, Gear & Uniforms of the IDF (1016), Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1991. ISBN 962-361-016-7 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.
  • Simon Dunstan, Israel's Lighting Strike, The raid on Entebbe 1976, Raid series 2, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2009. ISBN 978-1-84603-397-1
  • Thierry Charlier, Rescuing Europeans from the Rwandan Civil War, RAIDS Magazine, July 1994 Issue, Ian Allan Ltd. ISSN 0963-1852 (English Language edition)
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Landing Zone Lebanon – UNIFIL 2006, Blue Steel Info, Beirut 2007. ISBN 978-9953-0-0972-8

External linksEdit