Scientists and engineers from the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate at Natick Soldier Systems Center participated in the 2011 Joint Services Operational Rations Forum that took place in early February near Fort Lee, Va.

Held annually, the JSORF looks at proposed changes to operational rations. The 2011 meeting was chaired by the Quartermaster School, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and brought together military and civilian representatives and senior food advisors from many different organizations.

Throughout the two-day event, briefings by Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center scientists and engineers provided updates on the state of field feeding, raised issues affecting the operational rations environment, and recommended menu changes to select ration platforms based on recently conducted field-evaluation exercises. Specific improvements to the rations menus that were approved by the JSORF will be announced shortly.

To complement the menu-improvement briefings, a ration sampling and demonstration was prepared to highlight nearly all the items recommended for inclusion. This allowed attendees to experience the quality and variety of rations being developed and optimized by DoD CFD scientists and engineers.

The JSORF focuses on increasing quality of life for war fighters on the battlefield. In the closing moments of the forum, on behalf of Quartermaster Commandant Col. (P) Gwen Bingham, Col. Robert Harney, assistant commandant, hailed the JSORF as a "great place for collaboration and communication."

DoD CFD scientists and engineers play important roles in that collaboration and communication and are the driving force behind the improvements sought by the JSORF in an ever-changing operational environment.

"The JSORF is the culmination of our advanced development efforts, whereby CFD project officers obtain service approval for new rations, ration components and new capabilities," said Joanna Graham of CFD. "The recommendations made to the voting service members at the JSORF meeting are driven by war fighter feedback gathered over the course of the year. That feedback, along with extensive in-house testing and verification, leads to our developing, coordinating and transitioning of procurement documents to our partners at DLA Troop Support."