NATICK, Mass. -- The Research Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center's Combat Feeding Directorate, or CFD, recently hosted a Future Combat Feeding Capabilities Workshop. Uniformed service members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force attended the workshop, during which they brainstormed about how food and nutrition can best serve the joint warfighter in the future.

During the workshop, participants discussed future battlefield conditions and the criteria for food and nutrition that may be needed to optimize warfighter performance and lethality. The workshop, and the direct interaction with warfighters, will help identify gaps in field feeding requirements and capabilities for ten years in the future or longer. The information gathered during the event will be used to help shape CFD's research and development efforts.

In addition to helping identify the warfighter's future food and nutrition needs, the workshop also aimed to increase participant awareness about the DOD Combat Feeding Program and current field feeding options.

CFD is committed to actively pursuing, adapting and cultivating leading-edge technologies to ensure military operators have the decisive edge in all aspects of combat feeding. To help lighten the warfighter's carrying load for extended, semi-independent close combat operations, the directorate is working on innovative ways to maximize the energy and nutrient density of ration components.

Additionally, CFD researchers are focused on providing capabilities to use nutritional interventions to optimize warfighter performance; protect food and water from contamination; increase understanding of the gut microbiome; apply creative manufacturing technologies to food delivery systems; and increase energy efficiency and decrease manpower associated with joint-service field feeding.

The Future Combat Feeding Capabilities Workshop underscored CFD's commitment to working directly with warfighters, whose input CFD greatly values.

"Having a representative from all the services, as well as several different military occupational specialties, together at one table for an open discussion on the future of combat rations was highly effective because it allowed the combat feeding developers to see different viewpoints and focus on what's important to the end user," said Capt. Christina Deehl, who works in the Human Performance Program (THOR3) at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and was one of the workshop's participants. "As the USASOC performance dietitian, my focus is on the operator getting an adequate amount of high quality nutrition to fuel him or her for a physically intense mission."

"Gathering feedback from military service members with occupational experience in nutrition/human performance, logistics and resupply provides awareness of field feeding challenges," said Jeannette Kennedy, a CFD technical advisor who coordinated the execution of the event. "Additionally, stakeholder feedback is vital to ensure that researchers and engineers understand the context of the field feeding environment."

"These activities are important because they allow scientists and engineers to hear about critical issues directly from uniformed service members, and engage at a level that is not routinely possible," said Brian Gemmill, a requirements analyst in G3/5, Operations and Plans, who served as the workshop's facilitator.

Helping warfighters perform their best is at the heart of the work performed by the Soldier Center.

"I am excited to know that ideas from this workshop will help guide research and development efforts and ultimately provide capabilities to optimize warfighter performance," said Kennedy.

"I am proud to be part of a team that is tirelessly working to provide human performance solutions that will increase Soldier lethality and nutritional health," said Gemmill.

---

The U.S. Army Soldier Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.