Troops to get holiday meals
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

NATICK, Mass. (Army News Service, Nov. 22, 2006) - The holidays are going to be a little bit tastier for warfighters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan thanks to a team of scientists at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

More than 6,000 meals, consisting of turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry jelly, snacks, desserts and beverage mixes, are on their way to provide a Thanksgiving meal for forces that are operating in remote areas.

"Our goal is to provide our troops a 'taste of home' by offering a traditional holiday meal," said Sue Harrington of the Group Ration Team.

The meals are part of the Unitized Group Ration-Express, a self-heating group meal module developed and patented by the NSRDEC team. According to Peter Lavigne, project manager, the UGR-E modules provide hot meals for groups of 18 warfighters right out of the box, without the need for traditional food preparation equipment, personnel, fuel or even electricity.

The UGR-E will also reduce the cost and logistical burden associated with using a field kitchen. With a quick pull of a tab, the meals are ready in 30 to 45 minutes.

"The disposable heating tray serves as a chafing dish to ensure that all warfighters receive a hot, nutritious meal in even the most austere environment," added Lavigne.

"The heating technology for the UGR-E was adapted from the heater that is currently used in the individual Meal, Ready-to-Eat ration," said Lauren Oleksyk of the Equipment and Engineering Technology Team. "Like the MRE, the UGR-E is a shelf-stable product that does not require refrigerated storage, and can be quickly delivered, prepared and disposed of in a military operating environment."

NSRDEC, in an extremely short time period, coordinated with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in order to fulfill a request from the Multinational Corps - Iraq to fabricate, assemble and label the self-heating holiday meals as required to meet applicable transport guidelines within the required timeframe.

This rapid production and delivery highlights the new capability and flexibility offered by the UGR-E. The MNC-I has also requested UGR-Es for the upcoming December holidays.