OMG!!! Poor Marines Forced To Eat MRE’s!!!!

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.,_Khowst_province,_Afghanistan.jpg

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.”


Filed under marines

16 responses to “OMG!!! Poor Marines Forced To Eat MRE’s!!!!

  1. ultimaratioregis

    URR doesn’t see the loss of MIDRATS as a very big deal. URR thinks that MREs are damned good when you haven’t eaten in 36 hours, and I think anyone who has had to carry everything they wear/use/eat would agree.

    Somehow, I get the sense that someone launched this particular bitch up the pipe as a lark, and the do-gooders bought it. As for “social sustenance”, I am not sure MIDRATS is the place for lighting farts and telling drinking stories, which is the REAL social sustenance for Marines.

    But I still think that some Lance Corporal who stuffed some command suggestion box full of this grousing is laughing to his buddies that it made big news.


  2. AndyN

    “I just got back from flying my ass off and in a few days, I will not have a meal to replenish me after being away for over 9 hours.”


    “…the wife of a Navy pilot…”

    Ah, so Navy officers are having to survive on 2 hot meals plus an MRE a day? Or more likely, 2 hot meals plus however many MREs they care to pick up, plus whatever pogey bait their undoubtedly still reliable mail delivery is still supplying from home. Somebody needs to let the girls back home know that when the warriors have to resort to complaining about only being served 2 hot meals a day, it means that they’ve run out of real problems to complain about.


  3. Esli

    How times have changed. In 2007, I offered to deliver hot chow to the Marines who had just taken over some of my AO. The Marine battalion`s Sgt Maj refused Army chow. Even though we were drawing rations from a Marine RCT, and Marines were cooking it in a Marine containerized kitchen on an Army patrol base. Instead, he opted to feed them MREs for the duration. I hope this was atypical, but I have not seen anybody treated worse than those men.


    • I really hope that was atypical. I mean, that is the kinda crap that goes on when you are back in the world and the SMaj has to worry that the CSM is gonna point out that one of “his” troops has their hands in their pockets or a jacket pocket unbuttoned.


  4. hotrodelectric

    “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. ”

    No, no, Babette. Desperation is when you are reduced to mixing sawdust together with dirt to create a kind of flour. MREs were originally designed to be a lightweight, easily transported, easily heated replacement for C-rats. You know- the food eaten in the field. Where full-blown field kitchens aren’t easily set up.

    Now, the Corps has decided to save a bit of time, money, and manpower, and feed the men MREs for one of their 4 meals. Don’t know about you, but me thinks that smells less of desperation and more of changing needs.


  5. My son got MRE’s for his Christmas and Thanksgiving meals while he was in Afghanistan. I didn’t know about it until he got home because he doesn’t bitch about stuff like that. It came up at our first Thanksgiving meal together after he got out when I asked him what he had the previous Thanksgiving. He said hot meals were rare where he was at and they didn’t really expect anything different for a holiday so they weren’t disappointed.


  6. “Hand me the crying towel Gunny!” We are back on MRE’s.
    Just be glad the MRE isn’t C-rations.


    • I haven’t eaten any of the current crop of MREs, but I would have preferred to have Cs back after the change in the 80s. I didn’t think the MREs were bad, per se, just liked Cs better. But, then, I had been eating Cs since I was in the 7th grade.


  7. Good thing about Cs was the fact that they also contained a pack of gum and a 5-pack of cigarettes, Lucky Strikes, but beggars can’t be choosers.

    I was at a “remote” radar site in Germany and the Cs were for if we got snowed in and couldn’t get out for a day or two. If the cigs were any indication, the c-rats were left-overs from the Korean War. Yes, being on a 12 hour CQ duty and running out of cigarettes, we would raid the c-rat boxes. ;)


  8. MikeD

    As someone who worked mid shifts for the Army back in the 90’s, I’m here to tell you, there wasn’t a chow hall open on Fort Gordon for me to eat at. You know what we did? We brought food from home, or we had someone do a food run to an all night take out. No MRE’s, no chow hall, nothing. And last time I checked, we survived the horror of not socializing with other soldiers.


    • MikeD

      As Brad nailed it, I’ll just content myself to say that if the worst thing facing Marines in Helmand province is that they have to make due with an MRE for mid-rats (supplied at government cost I’d add… seeing as how back in the mid-90’s that had to come out of my pocket if I wanted mid-rats of ANY kind), then there’s not much call for Marines to be there anymore.


    • David Navarre

      Mike, no offense, but I think the Helmand province doesn’t have any all night take out available for those Marines.


    • That’s kind of the point. Once you get away from Camp Leatherneck, there’s all sorts of Marines and soldiers (and even airmen and sailors) that don’t have a four meal mess hall to cut.


  9. D Rutledge

    I wonder how Willie and Joe survived WW2? RE: Bill Mauldin……..


  10. SFC Dunlap (R) 173d RVN

    @Quartermaster & Obsidian53: ditto, to this day they haven’t quite replicated the Pound Cake. One thing I tend to be unsympathetic about in this vein is that since a couple or so iterations ago of MRE’s they come with…..heaters!!! My C-Rats didn’t have heaters. If one has never seen frozen congealed fat on C-Rations Spiced Beef, be afraid, be very afraid. Anybody remembering the odd moment of being able to have cold C-Rat fruit in Southeast Asia??? Man oh man what a rare treat that was!!