Lunch time
Contract workers dish out lunch to Soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery for a brief break in their basic combat training May 6, 2010, at the newly reopened dining facility.

FORT SILL, Okla.--It's almost summer time and that means hot weather, barbecues and more basic trainees. As the physical training uniform is switched from pants to shorts the training side of post is busy preparing to house a lot more future Soldiers during what they call the "summer surge."

According to Lottie Sledge, 434th Field Artillery Brigade food adviser, students get out of high school and that's when a lot of recruits sign up and get sent here for basic combat training, "We also have a lot of students that do the split option where they come and do the training in the summer time, go back and graduate, then go to AIT."

Sledge would know as she has been coordinating with other departments on post to make sure they are ready for the extra mouths to feed. As strategist Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "an army marches on its stomach," and that dogma starts as soon as recruits step off the bus and come face to face with yelling drill sergeants.

Building 5960 is the dining facility that was reopened May 3 for such a surge of Soldiers. Sledge said there's a lot of preparation that goes into opening up the food lines. The building has been closed since November of last year. Since that time there have been work orders to get necessary repairs done and inspections to make sure the building is ready. Then it was cleaned and the food was delivered, Sledge said.

Just as she was explaining this, Soldiers were shuffling in line to get their second meal of the day. No smile on their faces just hungry looks in their eyes, literally.

Sledge said a normal DFAC feeds about 1,100 Soldiers per meal. With the summer surge, that number jumps up anywhere from 1,500 to 1,800 Soldiers per meal.

The DFAC had only been up and running for three days but Sledge said everything was going very smoothly.

"This is good that we're opening up ahead of summer surge because they did hire a lot of new employees. So, that gives them a chance to get trained up before they get thrown in the fire," said Sledge.

She said they plan according to projected numbers from 95th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) on how many Soldiers to expect. This summer is bringing in an entire new battalion which could mean up to 1,200 additional Soldiers.

And as long as they are willing to sign up to fight for this country the DFAC staff is going to make sure they are properly fed. Sledge said besides the essentials, (and if they're allowed, some non-essential dessert) at the end of their training they will have earned a special meal.

"We support warrior meals which is a rite of passage. It will be something special they didn't have during their cycle to celebrate the change from recruit to Soldier."

They also plan on having a special meal to celebrate the Army's birthday in June.

According to Henry Cara, logistics management specialist, June and July are the busiest months for the summer surge and then in August the training capacity returns to normal.

Page last updated Thu May 13th, 2010 at 16:37