Instead of slicing open 5-year-old plastic ration pouches, American troops on patrol at the front lines in Saudi Arabia soon will be able to eat meals as fresh as packaged, preservative-laced food can be.
The Pentagon has placed a $260-million order for nearly 190 million entree side-dish packs for its basic battlefield ration in a move to preserve and build up dwindling supplies of the food soldiers carry into battle.
That’s about a six-month supply of food for a force of 400,000 eating three meals a day.
The contracts were let this week to seven food suppliers throughout the country and include dishes such as spaghetti with meat sauce, ham slices, chicken a la king, omelets with ham, chicken stew and beef stew.
The troops at the front have been using up meals at the rate of about 1 million a month, and Lorraine Netzko, a spokeswoman for the Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia, which issued the contracts, said officials decided that although they had stockpiles for the event of war and had no supply concerns for a year, they should start building up the stockpiles again.
Until now, the Defense Logistics Agency has been shipping out meals packaged in 1987, 1988 and 1989. Some troops took with them meals put together in 1984 and 1985.