Support: December 24, 2001

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The Army has started producing two new types of combat rations in addition to the venerable MREs. The Meal, Cold Weather is in a white pouch. The Food Packet, Long Range Patrol, is in a tan pouch. Both use freeze-dried food to reduce the weight from the 1.5 pounds of the MRE to only one pound. It is assumed that people in cold areas can melt snow while special operations troops can find water in local streams. There are 12 menus (the two types use the same entrees), compared to eight for earlier Cold Weather and Long Range rations. (Troops won't see these new rations until the stockpiles of old Cold Weather the Long Range packets are used up.) The old Long Range rations had 1100 calories; the new ones have 1500. Tests at the Ranger School showed that soldiers who lived on one Long Range packet per day for ten days (normal for Special Forces) were vulnerable to infections because of their weakened immune systems. The new Cold Weather ration also contains 1,500 calories, and soldiers in combat in such regions are given three each day (replaced by cooked food when available). It replaces an older ration designed by the Marines for their NATO mission in Norway after they discovered that MREs did not take well to freezing. The old Marine ration weighs 2.75 pounds and has 4,500 calories and is designed to feed one soldier for one day. Extra calories are needed in extremely cold weather. Having smaller single-meal packs means that soldiers going on a shorter patrol could carry just one or two.--Stephen V Cole

 


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