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Russian Field Rations


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First I've ever seen on the topic. But I never went looking. Still, it's pretty amazing, since it comes in a Digicam™ type carton cum bug, complete with soldier friendly built in carrying handle and vitamins! See for yourself.  Now, we can wait to hear what some of our colleagues who've eaten one of these have to say. Of course, considering GIs in Nam were eating WW II C Rations, those colleagues may be eating something made, say, around the time of the the First Chechen War!

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler 

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 Of course, considering GIs in Nam were eating WW II C Rations, those colleagues may be eating something made, say, around the time of the the First Chechen War!

 

I had my first MRE circa 2005.  Some MREs include various commercially available candy items.  They have no special labeling, it's just a bag of skittles or something*.  I pulled out my M&Ms with a wrapper celebrating the upcoming summer Olympics.  Athens had happened, so I figured I was looking at a pretty recent production MRE.

 

Then I noticed it was for Barcelona.   Not quite eating food for "The Big One" several wars down the road, but still a bit of an extensional moment realizing the chicken for the chicken Alfredo had met its fate when I was in second grade or so.  

 

*Except for tootsie rolls.  They're still in their original wrapper placed inside a brown package with no other markings.  At least sometimes.  

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I see a typo got past me this morning. It should've read "carton cum bag, " which, in looking at it, actually reads worse!  Still, at least the shade of my spelling teacher won't whack me with a ruler. Isn't English fun?

 

Alexey K,

 

What's Russian LJ? I'm pretty sure "LJ" isn't Law Journal.

 

panzersaurkrautwerfer,

 

I've eaten exactly one MRE, when Dad and I went out to NTC and visited my brother George. He provided me with what he assured me was one of the good ones, Turkey a la King. Nasty looking, watery and super salty, but the turkey was okay. The best part of the meal was what my brother called roadwheel cookies. The spice (?) cake was pretty good, too. I really thought the micro bottle of Tabasco was cool. But will there be a battle in the future between OG Tabasco and NKOTB Sriracha for pride of place in MREs? I believe that little bottle is a phenomenal way to build product awareness and brand loyalty.

 

wee,

 

I've read that in the opinion of NATO troops, the French have the best rations, followed by the Italians. Can't say I'm shocked.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler 

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I've eaten exactly one MRE, when Dad and I went out to NTC and visited my brother George. He provided me with what he assured me was one of the good ones, Turkey a la King. Super salty, but the turkey was okay. The best part of the meal was what my brother called roadwheel cookies. the cake was pretty good. I really though the micro bottle of Tabasco was cool. But will there be a battle in the future between OG Tabasco and NKOTB Sriracha for pride of place in MREs? I believe that little bottle is a phenomenal way to build product awareness and brand loyalty.

 

The Tabasco thing actually dates back to the fact the family that owns the Tabasco company are pretty serious USMC alumni.  If I recall correctly the family member who ran the company post World War Two was a Navy Cross holder.  The sauce itself is really helpful because pretty much any preservation means takes away some of the flavor to a certain degree, so hot sauce is always a welcome commodity to bringing flavor back.  Even without MREs I know guys who simply carried their own hotsauce.

 

It's likely going to keep on being Tabasco for heritage reasons, although Louisiana Hot Sauce and Texas Pete both show up pretty often  in mess halls or more established field kitchens.  I'm partial to Texas Pete myself.

 

For MREs:

 

Entrees: Pasta is rarely bad, meat is rarely good (I mean it's edible, but it's not that good).  Exception for me is the chicken fajita which is quite serviceable.  Always ask yourself "if I put their meal in a bag, would it end well?" if the answer is no, then generally the MRE version is not going to be the optimal choice.

Sides: Same as above for the bag rule.  The rice is never that good, but since it's more or less in a brick form you can just kinda open it up and treat it like a crumbly rice bar.  The Mexican variety is okay.  Always, always take the fruit though, it's no worse than anything you'd get from a can, and because it tastes fine cold, warm, or anything in between it's great for eating on the go.

Breads: Crackers, and wheat bread are both great.  Can't go wrong with them, just be sure you have water or a beverage to go with them.  Spread order of merit is Jalapeno Cheese, Cheese, Cheese with bacon, peanut butter.

Cookies/muffin tops/pound cake: Best thing ever.  They all lend themselves to still tasting good despite being made sometime during the Clinton presidency.  None of them are really bad, just not as good (the creamcicle cookie is still edible)

Other honorable mentions: Tortillas (stiff and small, but taste is about right, and works well as an edible spoon!), pretzels (if you're lucky sometimes it's just out and out a bag of Combos), candy, "Ranger" and "Hurrah/Oorah" bars (the first is like the old school cookie-breadish power bar, sort of hard but soak it in coffee for a second and it's amazing, the second is sort of like a chocolate or sweet apple flavored thing with crispy bits in it.  Sticky but tasty) and the unnerving cobbler (most "good" MRE items taste almost like they should, but not quite.  The cobbler just tastes like cobbler.  Nothing weird or upsetting, which is what makes it unnerving because surely there's something terrible about it to make it taste so normal)..

 

The best MRE was the Tuna one.  It was just a commercial packet of tuna (usually starkist), packet of tortillas, mint chocolate chip cookie, packet of pretzels and then relish and mayo for the tuna.  When you get down to it, when judging MREs the usual criteria is "how much of this can I eat straight from the bag without it being gross."  The answer for "how much of this can I eat straight from the bag" is "all of it" but there's a far gap between a choking down a cold enchilada or semi-warmed noodles.  Tuna wins in this because literally every piece of it is entirely edible (and even "good") at all temperatures, any climate.  

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panzersaurkrautwerfer,

 

I really do miss my brain. I neglected to mention when I visited NTC. 1980. I believe MRE's were pretty new then. For sure, my brother thought they were better than K rations. Was was also the occasion of my previously described romp in the Threat Garden. After looking inside an MTLB and being told it was relatively spacious, I felt bad for the PBI who had to run around in a BMP. 

 

Either your memory's great, or it's your Google fu, but Walter McIlhenny was indeed a Navy Cross winner. So sayeth his Wiki.

 

For extraordinary heroism and courage as Executive Officer of Company B, 1st Battalion5th Marines1st Marine Division, during a frontal assault upon a strongly fortified enemy Japanese position along the coast of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, August 27, 1942. After organizing a volunteer party to advance and evacuate the wounded from the hazardous position well forward of the company, First Lieutenant Mcllhenny, armed only with a rifle, and while under heavy enemy mortar and machine gun fire, covered the advance and withdrawal of the rescue party, gallantly drawing enemy fire and silencing a Japanese machine gun nest. Although ill at the time and suffering shock from concussion of an enemy mortar shell, he returned to a vantage point close to enemy lines and, in the face of fierce sniper fire, acted as an observer, relaying accurate information necessary for fire control until ordered by his superior officer to leave his post. His great personal valor, above and beyond the call of duty, not only made possible the rescue of nine wounded men but also contributed to the success of Marine mortar fire.

 

He also won the Silver Star.

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while in command of Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, in combat against enemy Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on November 2, 1942. After a previous attempt to secure information had failed, Captain McIlhenny led a patrol of approximately twenty men to reconnoiter the enemy's right flank and, moving through dense jungle, cleared the zone of hostile snipers and finally reached his objective. Completing his mission, he started to lead his patrol back to their own lines when they were spotted by the enemy who immediately opened fire, pinning them down. When almost all of his men were wounded, including two runners who had been dispatched to the battalion, Captain McIlhenny, despite his own injury, determined to carry the message himself and finally succeeded in reaching our lines. His great courage and unswerving devotion to duty enabled his company to attack the enemy's flank and capture their position. His superb leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

 

With that sort of life experience under his belt, can you imagine the joys of trying to make excuses to him?!

 

I appreciate the rundown on MREs, which I'm told have gotten better since I first had one. I wouldn't know, since I really didn't enjoy the experience, other than having it with my brother/MRE cuisine guide. I wonder why they don't put beef jerky in MREs? Lightweight, nutritious and, as long as it stays dry, immune to pretty much everything short of a direct hit from a nuke.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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Either your memory's great, or it's your Google fu

 

It's mostly the memory.  I tend to remember things I've read, or events very well.  Half the reason I hang out on these forums so much is as I depart the military, it's sort of nice to have one corner of the world where regurgitating MRE information is still a relevant set of data.

 

I also need to generate enough taxpayer support for the Tuna MRE to ensure future generations are blessed by it, and it is not replaced with something obscene like the veggie omelet.  

 

Re: Jerky

 

It is indeed in there.  It is however tragically overwrapped, and you don't get much of it.  Think of it like desert at a Mexican restaurant.  It's nice to have, but it's not why you're there.   

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MREs are awesome the first time you get them. Then its all downhill from there. I was at the LRC when I had the first one..... they made all of us give up all our candy....

 

I wonder if the Russian rations make them **** brick sized chunks as well.

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agiel,

 

If a picture's worth a thousand words, that was roughly one episode from the none too  popular show (except with gastroenterologists) "As the Stomach Churns." I could feel my guts turning into knots watching that, along with my gorge's rising. Great concept for a YT series, but I hope there's some sort of commentary with the others. Or at least placards. The combination of sprightly saccharine music and "food" like that is hard to take.

 

pazersaurkrautwerfer,

 

I don't know about the tunacicle aspect, but your core premise seems eminently reasonable. And the tunacicle could work (sled dogs in The Call of the Wild ate frozen salmon, after all, and we're mammals), I think having the dish hot there would be the better choice. As for mine, I forgot to say I ate it cold. Were the exothermic packs separate in 1980? We didn't have a carton, just three MREs.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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I don't know about the tunacicle aspect, but your core premise seems eminently reasonable. And the tunacicle could work (sled dogs in The Call of the Wild ate frozen salmon, after all, and we're mammals), I think having the dish hot there would be the better choice. As for mine, I forgot to say I ate it cold. Were the exothermic packs separate in 1980? We didn't have a carton, just three MREs.

 

When I was a mere college student aspiring to military service, I had the resident-creepy-special-forces-Sergeant who aspired to be a creepy special forces officer pull me aside, unsolicited and tell me if I knew I wasn't going to have time to heat my lunch, to stick it down my pants or under my undershirts.  After a few hours of tromping around the woods, the body heat would warm it up enough to be palatable.  

 

He got less creepy, but the first year was sort of like that terrible Kurt Russel movie "Soldier" in that it took him a while to leave the spooky stuff behind and start talking to us like a normal human.  

 

No idea on the heaters, it sounds like you were eating the vintage of MRE that was designed and issued when I was still an earnest discussion between my parents if they wanted a second kid.  The early 90's ones I've eaten had a heater though.  

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David Hackworth is an interesting source of various tidbits of information of various kinds. He commanded a battalion of paratroopers in Vietnam and one of the stories he relates about that experience concerns a Christmas dinner there. It seems that they had been issued a load of frozen turkeys for the festivities, but when the cooks examined them they noticed that they were dated 1945. So they had made it through the end of WW II and the Korean war to finally come out of the freezer in the late '60s. He ordered them to be thrown into the dump.

 

Much later on, long after he had left the Army and was working as a war correspondent during the '91 war against Iraq, he described how he and the rest of his team used to warm up their MREs by resting them against the exhaust manifold of their humvee and then driving around for a while. I suspect this practice is pretty widespread.

 

Michael

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panzersaurkrautwerfer,

 

I think cooking a dish sealed in foil and tied with wire to the exhaust manifold is the way to go, though I agree you'd eventually warm the rations al a SF SGT. I think, though, when I got up in freezing cold the last thing I'd want would be a large crotch icepack. Now, if you remembered to put the ration inside your sleeping bag so the ration didn't turn into a block of ice to begin with, then you wouldn't have to suffer as above.

 

jomni,

 

Nice find! Bookmarked to share with my retired US Army SFC (Scouts) brother George.

 

Michael Emrys,

 

I loved reading Hackworth, but I wrote my exhaust manifold cooking bit before I saw what you said. I learned of it in the magazine of the Triumph car club I belonged to then. Nor were these rations. They started with raw chicken and other ingredients, eating the resultant tasty dinner after an all day drive.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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re: heaters

 

Nah, Kettler was talking about not having the heating pouches in his MRE which sounds like one of the early 80's ones.  I don't know if those were separate in the early models, or perhaps not even part of the package, I never had the chance to eat one older than I'm guessing 1992ish.

 

You know they finally disconnected the smoke plate actually.  Everything now is pretty much JP8 or bust, which won't smoke like diesel used to.  Older tanks will still have all the switches for it, but the new M1A2s don't even have it.

 

That said one of my PSGs used to heat up his shaving water with an ammo can using the exhaust heat on his track, imagine you could do the same with an MRE (detach lid, stick in grill to make a shelf, fill can with water.  Can on lid.  Go make sure platoon is awake.  By the time you're back it's quite warm). 

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