Granted, we are admittedly Anglophiles but we don’t publish every new Brit military development. However, we couldn’t pass this one up.
The MoD has just fielded new 12-hour ration packs to squaddies serving in Afghanistan. The 12-hour rations are designed to be eaten while on patrol and feature updated menus that include Hindu, Sikh, Halal and vegetarian selections. These have also been included in 10-man versions which can be prepared by someone with rudimentary cooking utensils. Essentially, a box of tinned (canned) foods that can be heated on a cooker (stove).
Quoted in an MoD press release, Private Ryan Salmon from D Company 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) says: “The new 12 hour ration packs are a great change from the normal rations. It contains Beef Jerky and a sandwich, which are great for a quick meal. The chemical water heater and main meal are good when you are on short operations, you can get a quick warm scoff and not worry about messing around with a cooker.”
At the programmatic level, Captain Jeremy Rigby, Head of DE&S Defence Food Services which is based in Bath, says: “This new contract – which was delivered ahead of schedule and under budget – enables us to produce innovative new rations quickly, meaning we can swiftly adapt to the latest operational requirements. It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to respond to feedback from our troops in Afghanistan, making sure we give them food they enjoy whilst maintaining the high nutritional content – as well as making the packs as light and convenient as possible.”
This is a review of the latest New Zealand ration pack sent in by one of our readers who asked to remain anonymous due to operational considerations. Thank you for your service and your review!
This is the latest development as the ration has had several changes in the past few years. A number of the components are made by the same company as the Australian CR1M – retort meals are exported from NZ to Australia, although special meal flavours are made for the Aussies. NZ retort pouches tend to be spicy (curry, jumbalaya, etc), whereas the Aussie ones are plain (beans and sausages, spaghetti and sausages etc). The NZ ration has 4 menus (see attached info sheet) and is designed to feed 1 person for 24 hours. There are no vegetarian/kosher/halal versions. I am a serving soldier and I have to say the thing I like is that you can actually write to the people that make the ration and they write back and take the feedback on board! As an example previous versions had one menu with glucose sweets and raisins, whereas none of the other menus had an equivalent. Now this has been changed so all menus have them.
The recaldent gum (made in Japan) is a new addition to protect soldiers’ teeth if they can’t brush them. The fruit bar is also quite innovative – it is a dehydrated product made from pure fruit which is edible without rehydration, and the serving is equivalent to eating 5 apples. I really like them.
The towelettes are not like the ones in the MRE – the NZ ones are simply paper soaked in alcohol, meaning they get used for many purposes – including cleaning canteen cups and lighting hexamine tablets! The matches are waterproof/windproof.
As far as a review goes the meals are quite good – they’re made by a civilian company that puts their commercial product in a mil-spec retort pouch. Chilli beef is my favourite, chicken jumbalaya 2nd. The satay isn’t good if you don’t like satay – it’s very much like peanut butter. Usually I dump the sugar and drinks – the soup is ALWAYS vegetable and is quite awful, and the chocolate drink tastes metallic and isn’t good if you have it at the recommended concentration. A canteen cup needs about 6 packets! The sports drinks are very good. The cabin bread is quite hard, but at least it doesn’t break. Some people like the canned cheese but I don’t. The muesli is good with a fair amount of condensed milk, even though the packet has milk powder in it. The onion flakes aren’t that good. The muesli bars have recently changed and are now a bit gluey. The biscuits are good, especially choc chip.