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.”
In a shocking decision, the Australian military announced today that they are going to conduct an extended wear trial of the MultiCam pattern for troops serving in Afghanistan. Like in the US and UK, Australian Special Operations Forces have long used MultiCam due to its increased effectiveness. Following their lead, Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare announced the change to the new pattern today at the biannual Land Warfare Conference in Brisbane. By “change” we mean the extension of the SF wear trial that has been going on for years.
“Special Forces soldiers have said this is the uniform they want to wear,” Mr Clare said. “The camouflage pattern provides troops with greater levels of concealment across the range of terrains in Afghanistan – urban, desert and green. It also makes it easier for our troops to do their job.”
The plan calls for all Australian troops going ‘Outside the Wire’ will be outfitted in MultiCam. What is really interesting is that Mr Clare discussed issuing the same uniforms used by his SOF which are the Crye Precision combat uniforms rather than the standard DPCU in a different camo pattern. However, he also stated that “I have also instructed the Defence Materiel Organisation to pursue the purchase of a licence to provide for the potential manufacture of this uniform in Australia if the extended trial is successful,” Mr Clare said. Could this be the groundwork for an Australian MTPesque creation?
Furthermore, does this initiative mean the demise of the short lived Disruptive Pattern Midpoint Uniform unveiled earlier this year? The whole point of the DPMU was to alter the DPCU’s pattern slightly to be more effective in Afghanistan. Designed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), it combined the colors of the two uniforms the Australian Army currently uses.
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.
In addition to TacGear’s MultiCam-esque Flecktarn offering, a new pattern has emerged in Germany called Arid-Flecktarn that is definitely inspired by MultiCam but features Black rather than the Dark Brown shade found in the real thing. It is purely a commercial pattern and has not been adopted for use by anyone. The garments are sewn in the same style as US-issue ACUs.
In January we published an article with the purported front runner for the new Spanish camo pattern. Since that article the US Army selected MultiCam for use in Afghanistan and shortly after the Spanish Army announced that they are going to adopt the two patterns below. A simple glance will bring one word to mind and that is, “MultiCam”. it appears, that unlike the UK and US, they wanted to do it on the cheap. Soldier Systems Daily has verified that the Spanish military did not consult with Crye Precision in development of these patterns. Oddly, the Spanish Army is referring to this new camo as “digitized” due to the squared off edges on some of the shapes but they could hardly be considered true digital patterns when compared to UCP or CADPAT.
Quite a few countries have jumped on the MultiCam band wagon. Some have licensed the technology and unfortunately, some have not. StrikeHold! has a great article on MultiCam derivatives.
Aside from the concern over the origin of the pattern the fit seems to be at issue as well. While this new uniform closely resembles the US ACU, apparently Spanish troops are a bit unhappy about the cut of the trousers, forcing them to go “Marcando Paquetorro”.
-Miguel en Canarias contributed to this report.
Germany’s Tacgear has released a preview of their upcoming flecktarn based camo pattern. Although the photo is small, the colorway looks surprisingly similar to MultiCam.
Seen here with the Atom LT jacket and Alpha LT shell, the new Beta LT pant is manufactured from Gore-tex Pro-Shell. It features an integrated belt as well as 3/4 length zippers to assist with donning and doffing. At 10.6 ounces when combined with the other two items, you get a cold weather package that weighs in at a scant 32 ounces total! Due to this lightweight construction, the entire set up packs down to a size smaller than a basketball. But don’t let the term lightweight fool you. I must admit I was skeptical when I first got my Alpha LT jacket. It felt so light I was worried it wouldn’t stand up to hard use but nothing could be farther from the truth. It is not only extremely well made and very strong, it also moves well with the body. Available in Crocodile sized Small – XX-Large from www.arcteryx.com/leaf.