Meals on the go have just gotten better thanks to the U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, colocated on the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center.
"During patrols, Soldiers eat as time permits and often have difficulty eating enough to meet their energy needs. The Army was also looking for ways to reduce the Soldier's load. So, the solution was to make an individual field ration that contained food that required no preparation, was easy to eat on-the-move, and was small and lightweight" said Dr. Scott Montain, USARIEM research physiologist of the Military Nutrition division.
The two organizations have collaborated to design the First Strike Ration® and the Modular Operational Ration Enhancement, better known as MORE.
The First Strike Ration® was engineered to better fit the lifestyle of today's Soldier said Montain.
"When I was in the Light Infantry Division, we had 3-day missions and had to take everything. This meant we took out food that was in our MREs because it was too big and only took a few things we ate. I had to make sure I was able to carry my medical equipment, and pack items to keep me warm and dry. Therefore, our unit was down to the bare essentials. With the FSR®, food is compact and there is more food inside. It has all the essentials we need," said Sgt 1st Class Raymond Persaud, Military Operations manager at USARIEM.
Richard Haddad, equipment specialist at NSRDEC said he first encountered the ration while serving in Afghanistan as a Platoon Sergeant in 2004/2005 with Alpha Company 2/22 Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
"I was serving in a remote location in the Paktika province and was asked to evaluate the rations during our combat operations. The DoD Combat Feeding Program sent over uniformed representatives to our location in Afghanistan to issue and evaluate our use of the FSR®," said Haddad.
Since warfighters are deploying in high intensity and mobile combat operations, the First Strike Ration® increases consumption, nutritional intake and mobility.
Haddad said the First Strike Ration® provided more energy as most of the components had needed carbohydrates that were useful during long mountainous movements. "It was easier to replenish on the move because the items require zero preparation. This resulted in the Soldiers spreading out the components to give them replenishment when they need it. My Soldiers loved the FSR®."
"The First Strike Ration® has a special purpose. It is meant for the first few days of combat," said Julie Smith, NSRDEC food technologist. "Currently, there are three menus that provide 2900 calories each."
Montain and his team ran several tests and determined that the First Strike Ration® helped give Soldiers more energy and enhance performance.
He also said, "We have repeatedly found that Soldiers who were provided the FSR consumed more energy compared to those who ate MREs, and the Soldiers give the FSR higher acceptability scores. This is probably due to picking items that taste great and the ease by which the components can be snacked on while on-the-go. Associated with the increase in food intake, we have demonstrated improvements in physical and cognitive performance."
"USARIEM researchers found the Soldiers rely more on carbohydrate as a substrate when operating at higher altitudes and they prefer foods with higher carbohydrate content. When Soldiers are fed carbohydrate at high altitude, physical performance is improved. The Modular Operational Ration Enhancement -High Altitude is specifically designed to meet these unique nutritional needs," said Smith.
The MORE, is exactly what it says it is. It's an enhancement pack that targets Warfighters nutritional needs in high stress and extreme environments. The MORE is designed to augment the Meals Ready to Eat, not replace it. However, research has indicated that Warfighters at altitude can benefit from additional calories. The MORE-High Altitude provides the correct amount of fat, carbohydrate and protein needed in specific environmental settings while providing food components that need little or no preparation and can be consumed on-the-go.
There are currently three menus of the First Strike Ration® and there are two packs of the MOREs.
Menu 1 of the First Strike Ration® consists of a filled french toast pocket, bacon cheddar pocket sandwich, pepperoni pocket sandwich, jalapeno cheese spread, wheat snack bread, energy beverage, two mini First Strike™ Bars, peanut butter dessert bar, beef snacks, Zapplesauce®, Trail mix and caffeinated gum.
An example of food that is in the MORE include cracker, Jalapeno cheese spread, Zapplesauce®, fudge brownie, First Strike™ Bar, and a carb-electrolyte beverage.
"Our team is always coming up with new menus and components," said Smith.
Look for First Strike Rations® Coming to a Theater Near You™. The First Strike Ration® and Modular Operational Rationa Enhancement (MORE)-High Altitude are available through the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia. The FSR® National Stock Number is 8970-01-543-3458 and the MORE-High Altitude National Stock Number is 8970-01-577-9691.