Support: August 5, 2004


American troops are soon to receive combat rations that work. Since World War II, there have been numerous efforts to develop a nutritious, light weight and palatable combat ration. This is food for troops on the move, under stress, and without any time to stop and prepare a meal, even something like an MRE. All earlier efforts have failed, usually because the energy bars, and other attempts, tasted terrible. Troops would use things like rice balls, beef  jerky and candy. These were ancient "combat rations," but lacked essential nutrients. 

The latest U.S. Army effort is being tested with the troops, and was developed from existing commercial products and suggestions from combat soldiers. The First Strike Ration (FSR) contains  pocket sandwiches (with up to a three year shelf life), along with a zip lock bag so a partly eaten sandwich can be saved for later. There are two one ounce servings of Power Gel (popular with athletes who, during a workout or race, need some easily absorbed and digested carbohydrate-based calories to replace expended glucose, also called Energy Gel). There is a a HooAH energy bar, with lots of carbohydrates. 

The prototype First Strike Ration (FSR) consist of two pocket sandwiches, a HooAH! booster bar, Zapplesauce, sticks of beef jerky, crackers, peanut butter, a dairy bar, ERGO Power Gel beverage mixes, an accessory packet and a package of dried fruit. Also available, with the FSR and separately,  is Jolt caffeine gum, which provides about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of strong coffee. The exact composition of the FSR depends on the feedback from the troops receiving the thousands of prototype FSRs. 

Each FSR contains about 2,300 calories and weighs 12 ounces (half that of an MRE containing about 1,200 calories.) The FSR is also about half the size of an MRE. Currently, troops who are going to be out and on the move for a few days, will field strip MREs to reduce their weight and leave behind stuff that troops dont like. This is wasteful and time consuming. The FSR wont be in mass production for another three years. But the current tests have thousands of prototypes going out to the troops, especially Special Forces. In fact, the Special Forces have a standing order for all the FSRs that the army development crew can put together. At this point, the army is fine tuning the FSR, which appears to be the long sought palatable combat ration that works.




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