Monday, September 10, 2007

New Rations Coming To Army

The First Strike Ration reduces weight and cube by 50 percent when compared to the Meal, Ready-to-Eat.
Story, photos by Soldier Systems Center - Natick Army News Service

NATICK, Mass. — A new compact, eat-on-the-move assault ration is well on its way to warfighters’ hands.

“The First Strike Ration is intended for the first-on-the-ground, first-to-fight warfighter,” said Barbara Daley, food technologist and FSR project officer. Usually when warfighters are issued two or more Meals, Ready-to-Eat they “field strip” them to lessen the bulk and weight they are carrying.

Personnel at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center found not only were warfighters tossing what they considered extra weight, such as the flameless ration heater and Tabasco sauce, but they were also tossing food items.

The FSR attempts to reduce this stripping by providing a lighter, smaller package with eat-on-the-go items that also enhance performance. These items are calorically dense and provide appropriate nutritional content and energy to warfighters for short durations of highly mobile, highly intense combat operations.

Items included in the FSR include pocket sandwiches, First Strike energy bars, Zapplesauce™ — a carbohydrate-enhanced applesauce, high-energy drinks, pouches of tuna and chunk chicken and caffeinated gum.

The FSR is designed to be about half the size of the three MREs it replaces and it provides, on average, 2,900 calories per day.

“It is not intended to sustain the warfighter for long periods of time,” Daley emphasized.

Because of its lower caloric content, the FSR is classified by the Office of the Surgeon General as a restricted ration. As such, it can only be used as a sole source of food for 10 days or less in accordance with Army Regulation 40-25.

The Combat Feeding Directorate conducted user evaluations on the FSR in Nevada and Germany in fiscal year 2004, and in Afghanistan and Iraq in fiscal year 2005. When compared with a field-stripped MRE in Iraq in 2005, more than 70 percent of Soldiers said the FSR was more convenient to carry and consume than the MRE.

“The best feedback we have received to date has been from warfighters participating in OIF/OEF in the mountains of Afghanistan and Iraq. They loved it,” Daley said.

In July 2006, CFD conducted an operational test at Fort Bragg, N.C. With more than 100 Soldiers participating from an airborne infantry battalion, one group consumed the FSR for three days while the other group consumed MREs for three days. Then the groups switched.

From monitoring what the Soldiers ate and what they threw out, CFD saw less waste and greater consumption with the groups eating the FSR.Two Soldiers look at the components of the First Strike Ration during a recent evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas.

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