The “3 M’s” of morale  every commander needs to pay close attention to are:

  1. Mail
  2. Money
  3. Meals

Especially during Thanksgiving, a good hot meal is the least a commander can provide to his troops.

Imagine yourself stationed at a platoon or company sized outpost in the hinterlands of Afghanistan. In my era, most of my meals would have been MREs, with maybe one hot meal delivered in Mermite cans daily from the battalion trains in the Brigade Support Area.

But the Army in the past decade, with Brigade Combat Teams covering enormous geographical regions, centralized cooking simply isn’t practical. And for many outposts, the delivery options are either a risky ground convoy, or an expensive aerial resupply by helicopter. So many units at outposts have been augmented with a mess team to provide hot prepared meals on site. Larger outposts that have power generation may have a Containerized Kitchen as well as adequate refrigeration. Smaller, platoon sized outposts are unlikely to have such luxuries, but still often have a cook assigned.

The normal ration for these outposts is the Unitized Group Ration, or UGR. In fact, the UGR is really three separate rations.

UGR-A has perishable and semi-perishable foods, and requires an actual kitchen to prepare.

The UGR-H&S (Heat & Serve) is canned foods that simply need to be warmed prior to serving.  The Company Level Field Feeding Kitchen is well suited for this ration.

The UGR-E is designed for even more austere environments. It contains everything for a hot meal, and the ration trays are self heating! Not only that, but a special turkey holiday meal menu is available.

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Here’s a little bit on how the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) assembles UGRs.


As you sit down with friends and family today to give thanks for all the blessings in your life, take a moment to remember those Americans deployed world wide, and especially in Afghanistan, who will not be surrounded by family, but by their brothers in arms.

8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving”

  1. I’m being sincere, too – not even sarcastic or dickish. For realz. It’s a cool post & I learned a lot.

  2. Right on target. Three of my four years were overseas & away from family -I remember the Holiday Meals were (contrary to some our comments at the time) very important. Plus, being at a USAF base meant we had even more visitors for meals than usual from our very good friends in the Army & Marines (especially the Marines, for them we lived in the lap of luxury). Don’t remember seeing any Navy, though that could be just my memory or perhaps they really do eat well on those floaty things. 🙂 For those that are serving overseas, my thoughts are with you.

    1. My Father was an AF cook. I was in the Navy and have also eaten in Army DFACs. There was no difference in the quality of food. As my father repeatedly told the Army troops, we’re all trained at Ft. Lee and draw from the same food sources and use the same recipes. I think it’s more a mater of service lore and a desire to see how the rest live than anything else.

      I spent a great deal of time on Lackland AFB, my father’s last duty station, as well as Ft. Campbell and Rucker. The amenities were the same in all three places.

  3. The KCLFF, sadly, is a great piece of gear that is seriously under-utilized. Back in my HHC CDR days, I could send cooks with a KCLFF out to a company AA and cook eggs to order. I used them during gunnery, too. Nothing like steak and eggs after qualifying.

    1. My company, A/3/109th of the 30th Armored Brigade, TNARNG, had our own mess section. We always set ours up at the range. In the mid 80s we didn’t have the equipment allowing us to cook eggs to order, but we had about everything else. I had no complaints.

      This was before Division 86 changes. I got out just before those came completely online, so I have no idea what their TO&E allowances were after that.

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