Tired of cold MREs? Then you'll just love the Military's new "kitchen-in-a-box," which prepares hot meals for 18 warriors with just the pull of a tab.
Soldiers at Heidelberg have just finished testing two new rations which are scheduled to be fielded for servicemembers later this year. In addition to the self-heating rations, Soldiers were introduced to a new assault ration, designed to replace three MREs, but taking up much less space.
Officially titlted the Unitized Group Ration-Express, or UGR-E, 18 complete meals are packed into a surprisingly compact carton. To heat the meal, a Soldier merely opens the box, then, without removing anything, pulls a tab which releases a salt water solution that reacts chemically to heat the four trays of food in about 35 minutes. The box contains everything needed for the 18 meals, including trays, a trash bag and serving utensils.
This is great," Christopher B. Jenkins, Heidelberg garrison food service officer, commented to the Army News Service. "No cooks, no kitchen equipment, and it tastes good. I hope this doesn't mean we're out of a job," he added.
The First Strike Ration, nicknamed the Assault Ration is designed to replace three standard MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat). It has fewer calories, roughly 3,000 versus the three MREs' 3,900, but is more compact. Better yet, it needs no water for preparation other than that which is added to the beverage mix.
The meals themselves are in the form of pocket sandwiches, to be eaten by hand with a minimum of fuss.
The ration is designed for Solders on the go. A busy Soldier on the move can just reach into his FSR pack, pull out and eat the meal, and "chow down" without breaking pace.
Also being presented at the Heidelberg demonstration were 13 new MRE items, which included those approved up to fiscal year 2009. Every year, three to five items in the 24-menu MRE range are changed.
"Variety is very important to the warfighter," Kathy-Lynn Evangelos, Defense Department combat feeding program integrato, told the Army News Service. She added that Soldiers get bored eating the same thing day in and day out, so it's important to give them choices.