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Ive been binge watching some steve1989 on YouTube where he reviews and (for some damn reason eats) rations throughout history, one person joked that he might have become the last casualty of the boer war!

 

Im curious though as to why some countries opt for 24 hour rations while others resist doing so and prefer 3 per day. Is it more tradition or for some practical reasons?

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I think the 24 hour rations are an emergency ration and there's a more normal pack that's X men for 1 day which can also translate to 1 man for X days.

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It seems to me that the armies that issue 24-hour ration packs instead of single-meal rations do this because the main food source would be field kitchens and not the rations. Those same armies may also issue single-meal rations for soldiers in special roles.

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Im curious though as to why some countries opt for 24 hour rations while others resist doing so and prefer 3 per day. Is it more tradition or for some practical reasons?

I don't know the official answer to this question but I can add some observations from my service as a conscript in the Greek Army: the Greek Army has a 24 hour ration which is a carton box the size of a common brick. These boxes are kept in a storage room in the camp and are not normally consumed except rarely on some exercises. I think they are sort of an emergency measure or for special missions only. In the case of my battalion there was a 4-day commando-type excercise and all personnel were given one box each. The boxes were opened only when ordered to.

With that said the contents of the boxes are for the most part common stuff (tin cans, crackers, jam etc) that are also typically found loose and consumed in the mess halls or in exercises. For instance during an exercise the rations for the company simply were loose cans in a bergen bag that was carried by two men. Every sodlier got one can which basically amounts to a single meal. On occasion stuff like bags of raisins and bon-bons were also distributed. Also on an exercise we were given simple ham and cheese sandwitches wrapped in cellophane that the cooks had prepared the previous day. At the end of the exercise we got fresh soup.

I think it goes like this:

if the circumstances allow soldeirs eat freshly cooked warm food from the field kitchens, which is the cheapest and most welcome option

if the circumstances don't allow to prepare a meal, then tin cans and packs of crackers or other packaged food are distributed

only for special occasions when a group is expected to be outside of the army's supply network for a long time, the 24-hour boxes, which probably are also quite expensive, are distributed. These boxes include additional stuff like water-cleansing pills and multivitamins. Thus they are more complete "survival" boxes than just food.

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Ideally ( :rolleyes: ) field rations such as MREs are only intended for a few days to a week at most, with prepared meals from kitchens for normal use. Reality, of course, intrudes all too often and the troops are stuck with field rats for extended periods. After all, supply of individual sized, pre-packaged portions is easier out in the bush.

An article giving a quick history of US field rations:

http://guide.sportsmansguide.com/mre-field-ration-history/

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My buddy Jim has a host of books showing methods of cooking food for troops in the field in the british army with a focus on improvized ovens that can be assembled in a few hours from some sheet metal taken from kitchen unit stores and constructed out of mud that is then baked to make the ovens. Not getting the troops hot food that's fresh is a contributing factor of bad morale.

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Edited by rmgill
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My buddy Jim has a host of books showing methods of cooking food for troops in the field in the british army with a focus on improvized ovens that can be assembled in a few hours from some sheet metal taken from kitchen unit stores and constructed out of mud that is then baked to make the ovens. Not getting the troops hot food that's fresh is a contributing factor of bad morale.

 

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4073bcfd362e98d5b64ef97dcae87161.jpg​

 

Greatest military invention of the 20th century. A Hungarian told me so. ^_^

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My buddy Jim has a host of books showing methods of cooking food for troops in the field in the british army with a focus on improvized ovens that can be assembled in a few hours from some sheet metal taken from kitchen unit stores and constructed out of mud that is then baked to make the ovens. Not getting the troops hot food that's fresh is a contributing factor of bad morale.

 

​

 

4073bcfd362e98d5b64ef97dcae87161.jpg​

 

Greatest military invention of the 20th century. A Hungarian told me so. ^_^

 

 

Not just in Blitzkeig

 

The Soviets as well

 

35061.jpg

 

 

So lets wargame: German versus Soviet.......

 

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I got the last of the old c rations, and the first MREs, I liked the MREs better, but the C rat pound cake was a winner. The nut cake not so much.

Same here. I liked the fruit cake. The desert cakes tasted like the same basic recipe, with different extras for the specific item.

Those first MREs with lots of freeze-dried components, were a bit lacking. Freeze-drying to save weight was a nice thought, but the soldier still had to carry the necessary water somewhere.

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Ideally ( :rolleyes: ) field rations such as MREs are only intended for a few days to a week at most, with prepared meals from kitchens for normal use. Reality, of course, intrudes all too often and the troops are stuck with field rats for extended periods. After all, supply of individual sized, pre-packaged portions is easier out in the bush.

An article giving a quick history of US field rations:

http://guide.sportsmansguide.com/mre-field-ration-history/

 

To get back to MREs. I think it is matter of how you do it. Each has its pros and cons. the singel meals in USA MRE ahs the advantage that you can adjust the food issued. e.g. When much marching up and down hills is expected you issue like four or five packages. Or only two when sitting on a chair shuffling paper all day.

 

Whereas a day package is a one-size-fits-all solution. IIRC the german one has aboput 3,500 kilocalories, when you it all. Sized for an infantryman conducting moderate marching and fighting. The box also contains some hygiene articels like wet wipes and toilet paper.

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I got the last of the old c rations, and the first MREs, I liked the MREs better, but the C rat pound cake was a winner. The nut cake not so much.

Same here. I liked the fruit cake. The desert cakes tasted like the same basic recipe, with different extras for the specific item.

Those first MREs with lots of freeze-dried components, were a bit lacking. Freeze-drying to save weight was a nice thought, but the soldier still had to carry the necessary water somewhere.

 

The dried beef patty and dried pork patty, I could never get them to the right hydration for my taste. I loved the dried fruit cocktail, I would eat it like a candy bar. The cakes in the MRE's sucked IMO.

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I liked MRE fruit cake and the maple one wasn't bad if you could warm it up. I was sad to see the dehydrated patties go. If you mixed them with ramen they were pretty good. Since we carried 10 gallons of water on our tanks, re-hydrating stuff wasn't a problem.

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Standard MRE's run 2-3000 calories each, to meet the requirements for extreme physical activity. Unless you're real busy, you will put on weight with them. Cold weather MREs roughly double that. One problem is that exertion and stress often suppress appetite, and individual food preferences vary, so parts of rations are often discarded and soldiers wind up losing weight. This is a driver for all the emphasis on palatibility; it's not about coddling troops.

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Standard MRE's run 2-3000 calories each, to meet the requirements for extreme physical activity. Unless you're real busy, you will put on weight with them. Cold weather MREs roughly double that. One problem is that exertion and stress often suppress appetite, and individual food preferences vary, so parts of rations are often discarded and soldiers wind up losing weight. This is a driver for all the emphasis on palatibility; it's not about coddling troops.

 

Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach. Especially submarine crews have the best cooks. Morale is a very good reason to care about good food for your troops and their health as well. With sick troops you conquer nothing but your own hospital. To disregard this with "hur hur grow up be a man" is just simply ignorant.

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Standard MRE's run 2-3000 calories each, to meet the requirements for extreme physical activity. Unless you're real busy, you will put on weight with them. Cold weather MREs roughly double that. One problem is that exertion and stress often suppress appetite, and individual food preferences vary, so parts of rations are often discarded and soldiers wind up losing weight. This is a driver for all the emphasis on palatibility; it's not about coddling troops.

Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach. Especially submarine crews have the best cooks. Morale is a very good reason to care about good food for your troops and their health as well. With sick troops you conquer nothing but your own hospital. To disregard this with "hur hur grow up be a man" is just simply ignorant.

Exactly. Palatable means tasty and pleasant to eat. For field rations, though, the emphasis has to be on durability under austere field conditions. Also, its incumbent on unit leadership to minimize the time soldiers have to live on the field rations, for the very morale reasons you mention. If soldiers can be sure they wont be stuck with the rations for an extended period, they wont mindits considered part of the challenge of soldiering.
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I got the last of the old c rations, and the first MREs, I liked the MREs better, but the C rat pound cake was a winner. The nut cake not so much.

Same here. I liked the fruit cake. The desert cakes tasted like the same basic recipe, with different extras for the specific item.

Those first MREs with lots of freeze-dried components, were a bit lacking. Freeze-drying to save weight was a nice thought, but the soldier still had to carry the necessary water somewhere.

 

The dried beef patty and dried pork patty, I could never get them to the right hydration for my taste. I loved the dried fruit cocktail, I would eat it like a candy bar. The cakes in the MRE's sucked IMO.

 

 

I used to do the same thing with the fruit cocktail. It would suck up ALL the moisture in your mouth. LOL

 

I did the same with the dried meat patties. Instead of screwing around with trying to hydrate them, I just pretended they were jerky.

 

I actually liked the MRE "cakes", with maple nut being my favorite.

Edited by shootER5
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I got the last of the old c rations, and the first MREs, I liked the MREs better, but the C rat pound cake was a winner. The nut cake not so much.

Same here. One could be creative and burn the C-rat peanut butter -- to a degree--as the fumes were less toxic than the heat tabs furnished. You could also combine the coffee creamer package and the sugar to make icing for the pound cake. The MRE came in a rather tough to open package and was more tidy than the C rat.

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My experience as a conscript:

 

95% of the meals is kitchen made, either stationary or field kitchen. Daily rations were issued when on terrain for a shorter periods of time and when a kitchen was cleaned.

 

Rest is SDO - "Suvi Dnevni Obrok"/"Dry Daily Meal" - which as noted covered whole day. It had:

- breakfast (can of sardines/liver or chicken pate + jam or honey)

- lunch* (can of precooked food* see bellow)

- supper - can of the "Mesni narezak" (something close to, but not exactly SPAM) or ham or can of tuna.

- additions - bombons/chocolate/biscuits, instant tea/coffee were also included. Peppermint candies were 98% dextrose sugar and could double as a firestarters...

 

Bread was either given out in 1/4 loaf per meal or substituted for a crackers, comercial salty ones (I got hooked to a salty cracker + jam/chocolate spread that way :) ).

 

Most of food was decent to good, with exceptions of stuffed yellow peppers (I can not stand them to a point of them making me sick, so I exchanged them always), some abomination of the Moroccan sardines (all other brands were quite good...) and few other stuff. Most of the stuff was commercially available ones from a supermarket, except they had labels removed. Occasionally some old stuff would creep in, like 1991. made Gavrilovic ham which was fantastic and way better than a currently commercially available version.

 

Occasionally SDO was broken into portions and handled out in the plastic bags for a time when only part of day would be spent in terrain.

 

Plus there was a store in the barracks where you could but additional stuff, mostly at lower prices than in the commercial store. Until 2004. you could buy a beer there also, but heavens help you if you actually got drunk.

 

 

* List, as best as I can remember it:

- Beans with bacon - great, even cold it was pretty good

- Beans with pork sausage - same

- Beans with a hamburger - worse then both but still OK

- Beans with beef (IIRC this was substitute for a muslims instead of the previous two. Most muslims did not have problems with eating pork anyway, probably helped with a fact that this one, unlike previous ones sucked)

- "Rizi-bizi" - Peas/rice and chicken meat - universally hated but I actually kinda liked it if hot. Cold one was an abomination resembling solidified lard.

- Green beans with meat (either pork or beef) - kinda OK, again pork one was better

- Yellow peppers stuffed with rice/beef - I can not stand peppers, to a point of throwing up if I eat them. Only food I would not eat no matter how hungry.

- Peas with meat (and carrots) - called "SMB balls" , since it was the same color as an army standard green "SMB - Sivo-Maslinasta Boja - gray-olive paint" and generally not liked. Version with a pork sausage was somewhat better than the one with beef.

- "Djuvec" - rice with red peppers (again :( ), meat and a sauce. Peppers = no go.

- Beef goulash - good.

- Meatballs in the tomato sauce - taste was good. but it was not really filling

 

 

Early '60s US Army small unit kitchen. Panzermann, sauerkraut and bare weiners is not the most moral-building meal, IMO... :P

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6dp40mrAg8

Sauerkraut if prepared well is a stuff of legends:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podvarak

Edited by bojan
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Anyone have any experience with what could be called a 24hr 'section' (ie 10 men) ration pack?

 

Does anyone do this sort of ration pack any more?

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Thinking about those section 10-man ration packs Vietnam era - two cardboard boxes - heavy, reliant on either motor transport or even helicopters for delivery. Canned foods, involved section / squad heating rations over a wood fire in supplied dixies. Almost like a section kitchen. Mostly involved punching holes in the top of each can then heating the cans in boiling water.

 

In some circumstances a company kitchen could have been set up. Most could have been eaten cold, but would not have been as palatable. Almost a cross between individual rations (cans could have been distributed between individuals) and use of a 'kitchen' system.

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MRE Steve has examples of most of what's been discussed above.

 

There was a recent video of a modern Chinese ration that was so bad he got flashbacks to a a proper near-death poisoning experience he'd had in the past. Protip: if it smells like chlorophyll and the chicken is stained green, don't eat it.

 

Let's get this out onto a tray, Nice. m'kay.

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