Sorry, try as I might, I can’t work up much outrage about this story making the rounds the last couple days.
Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan will lose a key daily meal starting Saturday, causing some to forgo a hot breakfast and others to work six-plus hours without refueling on cooked food, according to Marines at the base and Marine Corps officials.
The midnight ration service — known there as “midrats” — supplies breakfast to Marines on midnight-to-noon shifts and dinner to Marines who are ending noon-to-midnight work periods. It’s described as one of the few times the Marines at Leatherneck can be together in one place.
So, for now, the chow hall is going from four hot meals a day to three. The horror!
Some folks will blame this on an uncaring service, or budget cuts on the back of the troops or the sequestration.
Simply put, the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan also means a drawdown of contractor support, including those that provide food services. And with fewer food service contractors, there has to be fewer hot meals.
So, sure, it’s a burden on those air wingers that work shift work. But Camp Leatherneck has always been somewhat more austere than some of the other major installations in Afghanistan (and it IS a major installation– it’s one 0f the biggest bases in ALL the Marine Corps). Unlike Bagram Air Base, it has never had fast food and coffee shops.
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (Nov. 26, 2009) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus serves turkey to Marines and Sailors Thanksgiving Day at Camp Leatherneck. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O’Brien
You can see above the horrific conditions in which our poor Marines are compelled to starve.
Mind you, I’m a strong believer that you don’t need practice being miserable. Good commanders take care that hot food is provided whenever practical. But the fact is, Marines at Camp Leatherneck have far more meal options and far better accommodations than those Marines and soldiers deployed to smaller combat outposts, where a hot meal is truly a luxury.
Both the Marines and the Army have gone to considerable effort to provide (military) cooks to forward outposts. But all too often those troops are either on patrol for days on end (meaning all meals are MREs) or only provided one or two hot meals a day, usually from canned foodstuffs, not fresh, and with a very monotonous menu.
Babette Maxwell, of Military Spouse Magazine, does herself no favors sounding like a whiner.
“MREs are an alternative for when you can’t get to healthy food. They’re supposed to be for desperation,” said Babette Maxwell, founder and executive director of Military Spouse Magazine, the wife of a Navy pilot and an advocate for service members and their families. “These guys have six to nine months left on their deployment. These are highly athletic and highly physical people, toting guns, not working any less now than before — and not working out any less either. Now, they’re short a meal and they don’t have any healthy alternatives.”
MREs are actually rather healthy, if somewhat high in fats. But they are very high in calories. Unless you’re engaged in the most strenuous physical activity (see, patrolling, infantry) you can gain weight quite easily with MREs.
And Ms. Maxwell, maybe you should ask your husband what kind of midrats are served at sea. Hint- it ain’t usually a hot meal, no matter what shift hours you have.
Then there’s this bit:
“Psychologically, midrats is probably the most important of all the meals because that’s the big social time — where first (shift) crew is coming off and second (shift) crew is coming on,” Maxwell said.”That’s where you get the esprit de corps, the camaraderie. It’s not just the food you’re taking away, it’s their social sustenance.”
Really? Marines are that fragile? I’ll have to take a poll of our readers and see how many support that notion. Provided I can get URR off his fainting couch. I’ll give you this much- other bases that have stopped a fourth meal have eliminated either breakfast or lunch based primarily on which is the least attended meal of the day.
I gotta say, as a grunt who thought a TCT/TCA ration cycle was pure luxury, I’d blow my top at these guys.
I’ll give LTC Gilmore, spokesman, credit for finding a bit of humor:
When serving we are challenged to endure different things — to face different challenges — over time. But we’re an odd bunch, we Marines — probably no surprise that we’ll complain more about losing the sandwich bar on the way out than we did about getting shot at on the way in.”