A field ration, or combat ration, is a canned or pre-packaged meal, easily prepared and eaten, transported by military troops on the battlefield. They are distinguished from regular military rations by virtue of being designed for minimal preparation in the field, using canned, pre-cooked or freeze-dried foods, powdered beverage mixes and concentrated food bars, as well as for long shelf life.
Such meals also prove invaluable for disaster relief operations, where large stocks of these can be ferried and distributed easily, and provide basic nutritional support to victims before kitchens can be set up to produce fresh food.
Most armies in the world today now field some form of pre-packaged combat ration, suitably tailored to meet national or ethnic tastes.
The United States' Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) is packaged similarly to the Canadian ration. Each sealed plastic bag contains one entire precooked meal, with a number of supplements and accessories. The original 12 menus have been expanded to 24 and now contain a variety of ethnic and special request items as well. Kosher/Halal and Vegetarian menus are also provided. Each meal bag contains an 8-oz main course (packaged in a four-layer plastic and foil laminate retort pouch), 8 hard military crackers, some form of spread (cheese, peanut butter, or jelly), a fruit-based beverage powder, some form of dessert (cake, candy, cookies, or fruit), and an accessory packet containing coffee or tea, creamer, sugar, salt, matches, a plastic spoon, and toilet paper. A chemical heater is packed with every meal.
The First Strike Ration (FSR) is a compact, eat-on-the-move ration to be used for no more than three days during initial periods of highly intense, highly mobile combat assaults. A single FSR (24 hours food) is about 50% of the size and weight of three MREs. Each FSR provides 2900 calories (15% protein, 53% carbohydrates, 34% fat), versus the 3800 calories in three MREs, and has a two-year shelf life when stored at 80°F. An FSR is packed in a single trilaminate bag and contains filled pocket sandwiches, a pouch of tuna or chicken, two packets of ERGO high-energy drink mix, two high-energy cereal bars (First Strike Bars), a dairy-based calcium-enriched dessert bar, two packets of beef jerky (BBQ or Teriyaki flavored), fortified applesauce, nut and fruit mix, caffeinated gum, and an accessory pack containing a beverage mix, salt, matches, tissues, plastic spoon, and cleansing moist towelettes. The FSR comes in three menus:
|Italian pocket sandwich||Honey BBQ beef pocket sandwich||Bacon-cheddar pocket sandwich|
|chicken chunks pouch||Albacore tuna pouch||pepperoni pocket sandwich|
|tortillas & hot sauce||tortillas & mayonnaise||filled French Toast pocket sandwich|
|Cinnamon & brown sugar toaster pastry||lemon poppy-seed pound cake||jalapeño cheese spread & wheat snack bread|
|peanut butter and crackers||cheese spread and crackers||apple cider mix|
|lemon tea mix||instant coffee, non-dairy creamer and sugar|
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