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Conference Notes
Prepared by The Quartermaster School
For the Quartermaster General
January 1949


History has known feeding problems

Long before Napoleon uttered his now famous words, “an Army travels on its stomach,” much thought had been given by warring nations to the problem of providing nourishment for their fighting men. The Greek and the Roman warriors, Frederick the Great, and Wellington, all were cognizant of the need of good food supplies, and of.the dire effect that a lack of suitable provisions had upon the morale, esprit de corps, discipline, and physical condition of an Army.\

Early American Rations

At the opening of the Revolutionary War, the colonies fed their own militia. Once the Army had grown, and had taken on a uniform character, the problem of feeding this unit became both acute and difficult. Shortly after George Washington was elected Commander in chief, the Continental Congress created a Commissary General of Stores Provisions, Joseph Trumbull, who had distinguished himself in feeding the Connecticut militia, was appointed to fill the job. The earliest legislation fixing the components of the Army ration was passed on November 4, 1775. A ration is the allowance of food for the subsistence of one person for one day. This first ration provided the following components:

l6 oz; beef 6.8 oz.peas
18 oz. flour 1.4 oz. rice
16 oz. milk .1830 oz. Soap
1 qt. spruce beer .0686 oz. candle

Compared with our present dietary requirements, this ration provided more calories, twice as much protein, an adequate supply of all minerals and vitamins with the exception of vitamins A and C.

Feeding problems in the Continental Army

The difficulty in securing salt presented one of the greatest problems in feeding the Army during the Revolutionary War. The small amount of salt that was imported came from Spain and her possessions. The only known method of preserving meat and fish was by salting, and once it became apparent that this item could not be had in the quantities necessary, cattle had to be driven to the immediate vicinity of the camp to await slaughtering as meat was needed.
Since most of the cattle came from Massachusetts and Connecticut, this was not too much of a problem at first. However when the Army moved southward towards Philadelphia, the problem increased when the British cut off the American Army from its northern sources of supplies. Bad roads and lack of forage reduced the cattle to skin and bone. Later in the war, the British West Indies was persuaded to sell both salt and ammunition to the Americans.

The Commissary General selects his assistants

The Commissary General appointed as his deputies, and assistants successful merchants who were experienced in purchasing. These purchasing agents bought, stored, and transported food supplies, and placed it finally in the hands of the Regimental Quartermaster, or any person who had been appointed to receive the rations. A general order issued on December 27, 1775 indicates that the Regimental Quartermaster drew subsistence in bulk, weekly.


When the main Army moved to New York, Congress felt the welfare of the Army required the use of sutlers. Sutlers would procure, at the cheapest price, whatever supplies the General needed. Sutlers were approved for all camps, and they brought into any fort, barracks; or garrison, any quantity of food, either edible or drinkable, unless a Congressional contract existed with a certain firm for a certain food item. The commanding officer of any military reservation was responsible that sutlers would bring to the post daily: provisions that were good, wholesome, and which did not exceed the market price. These sutlers were part of every Army installation until 1866,.at which time their position was abolished by law.

26,000 rations were needed in 1778

In the spring of 1778, the Continental Army was 26,000 strong. The problems of feeding the troops became more and more difficult. The Commissary General, Joseph Trumbull, realizing the shortcomings of the supply system, tried entirely different method of providing food. He requisitioned provisions from each state, asking the state to appoint its own purchasing agent, who in turn would buy, store, and deliver certain quantities of food supplies at specified times. This method proved to be even less effective, since transportation means were not always available at the right time. After days of starving, suddenly more cattle were received than could possibly be slaughtered and eaten. Since there was no forage, nor enough salt to preserve the meat, the cattle starved; when the troops were ready to consume the meat, the cattle were too thin to make killing them profitable.

Food purchased by contracts

In 1780, Congress decided to procure food by contract. Under this system, a contract stated the price of the ration; the component parts were defined as to quantity and kind. The ration was to be delivered by the contractor, to the individual soldier, for the price fixed in the agreement. It proved that this method was better than the previous system for food procurement, but it was found not too reliable.

Special Commissioners

The commanding officers of the various military installations were permitted to appoint certain special commissioners with responsibility to go and look for food supplies. They were able to pay for these provisions with money furnished by the United States Treasury, or with drafts or abstracts from the War Department. Besides the regular organization for supplying the rations, which were furnished at the expense of the government, some means had to be provided for the soldiers to obtain the so-called luxuries. When one considers the meagerness and lack of variety which characterized the ration of that time, this need is easily understood. Vegetables, chocolate, coffee, and tobacco, except those supplied at hospital stores, were brought into camp by the sutlers. Usually, the sale of liquor to privates and to musicians was restricted, but these restrictions were seldom observed. While many sutlers must have taken advantage of the soldiers, they probably lost heavily when soldiers failed to pay their debts.

The ration of 1812

The difficulty encountered in obtaining food supplies for the soldier of the Continental Army was probably the cause that the soldier of the War of 1812 was not as well fed as the soldier of the Revolutionary War. In 1785, one gill of rum had been added to the ration, also some vinegar, and some salt, but the peas, milk, rice, and spruce beer are missing from the ration given to the men fighting in the war against the British in 1812. The meat and flour component was increased, but not sufficiently. A decrease of calories and all the other nutrients are characteristic of this diet, which provided the following:

20 oz. beef .64 oz. salt
18 oz. flour .64 oz. soap
1 gill rum .24 oz. candle
1 gill vinegar

This ration provided ample supplies of proteins, calcium, thiamin, and niacin, but was deficient in vitamins A, riboflavin, and vitamin C.

Changes in the military organization

In 1813, changes in the military organization of the Army were effected. The country was divided into nine military districts, with a commanding officer for each district. While this change proved to be very sound in many respects, it did not improve the supply problem. During the first 30 years, the Army had experimented with various methods of securing provisions, but the means employed were ineffective. In April, 1818, a bill was passed by Congress which placed the responsibility of purchasing and issuing rations upon the Commissary General and his assistants. The same bill provided that “the President may make such alterations in the component part of the ration as a due regard to health and comfort of the Army and economy may require.”

Spirit Rations

The gill (4 oz.) of rum which had been added to the ration in 1785, was reduced in 1790 to one half a gill of rum, brandy, or whiskey. Four years later, a congressional act authorized: that to such troops as are, or may be, employed on the frontiers, and under such special circumstances, as in the opinion of the President of the United States, may require an augmentation of some parts of their ration, the President may be authorized to direct such augmentation as he may judge necessary, not to exceed one-half a gill of rum or whiskey in. addition to each ration.

Coffee, and sugar substituted for rum

The additional one-half gill of rum for those employed on the Western frontier was cut by an act of Congress in March of 1795; in July, 1795, the spirit ration was increased to one gill again, which lasted until 1832 when the rum ration was eliminated, and coffee and sugar was substituted. This coffee and sugar allowance was increased in 1838. The Congressional Act of 1846 allowed commutation in money for the extra spirit ration, which was allowed to enlisted men engaged in the construction of fortifications or the execution of surveys. This refers back to an act of 1799, which authorized the issue of spirits “in case of fatigue service, or other extra occasions”, and was not affected by the act of 1832 which discontinued the regular spirit ration. In 1865, a General Order from the War Department finally discontinued this special spirit ration, as well.

Mexican War ration

The Mexican War ration was established in 1838. It shows the change mentioned previously, that of substituting coffee and sugar for rum. Compared with the ration provided the soldier in 1812, this ration shows considerable improvement. The caloric value had been increased, and it provided a better supply of vitamins. Vitamins A and C are noticeably lacking in this ration as they were in the other rations. The components of the ration included the following:
20 dz. beef .64 oz. salt
18 oz. flour .0686 oz. candle
2.4 oz. dried beans .183 oz. soap
.16 gill vinegar .96 oz. green coffee
1.92 oz. sugar

Civil War ration

By Congressional Acts in 1860 and 1861, the variety of the ration was increased noticeably. Besides the coffee and sugar components, which had been added in the 1830’s, the flour component was increased to 22 oz., and at the same time potatoes, yeast powder, and pepper were incorporated in the ration, increasing the components from 9 to 12 items as follows:

20 oz. beef~ 2.4 oz. sugar
22 oz. flour .32 gill vinegar
7 oz. potatoes .64 oz. salt
.045 oz. yeast .04 oz. pepper
2.65 oz. dried beans .64 oz. soap
1.6 oz. green coffee .24 oz. candle

Whenever the supply lines were open, and when food was available, the soldiers of the Civil War were comparatively well-fed; however, from history we know that the troops were often without food. Obviously, the ration does show a marked improvement over earlier rations.

Spanish American War ration

Very few changes were made in the ration allowance between the Civil War and the Spanish American War. The potato ration was increased, and yeast was replaced by baking powder; the flour component reverted back to the 18 oz. allowance used in the Mexican War, and the issue of dried beans was decreased. The nutritional value of this ration varies only slightly with that of the Civil War period.

The President receives power to prescribe the components of the Army ration

The Congressional Act of 1901 authorized the President “to prescribe the kinds and quantities of the component articles of the Army ration, and to direct the issue of substitutive equivalent articles in place of any such components whenever, in his opinion, economy and due regard to the health and comfort of the troops may so require.” Under the authority, and in accordance with the provisions of this act, the first ration prescribed by the President was promulgated in General Orders No. 56, dated 23 April, 1901.

World War I ration improvements

In 1899 the sugar ration had been increased; in 1908, butter or margarine, lard, and flavoring extract were added to the ration., At the time of World War I, the ration components had increased to 17 items, and the substitution list showed a variety of foods which improved the soldiers diet considerably. Compared with the present requirements, the ration of World War I was deficient only in its lack of vitamin A.

The cost of the ration at the end of the first World War often surpassed the ration allowance allowed. A survey showed, that certain substitutions were often used which did not compare in cost with the corresponding component it replaced. To overcome this problem, additional component articles of the ration, such as bacon, rice, onions, canned tomatoes, margarine, and lard substitutes, were included in the ration, reducing proportionally the corresponding component articles for which these items had been substituted. The Executive Order, which became effective in October, 1925, increased the components of the ration from 17 to 23 items. In February of 1927, the component parts of the ration were further increased to 31.

First Emergency Rations

In the early days of Indian campaigning in the southeastern part of the United States, our officers noticed that when the Mexican and Indian started out on a raid, when his sole transportation was the pony on which he rode, or when he perhaps did not have even a pony, but went afoot, his subsistence, aside from what he gathered by “living on the country” enroute, consisted mainly of jerked beef and pinole.. Jerked beef is simply strips of lean beef hung out in the air of that dry climate until almost all of the moisture disappears, while the nutritive parts remain. In a moist climate it would spoil, but in the extremely dry air of New Mexico and Arizona, it becomes cured and will keep sweet for months. Pinole is parched and ground wheat or corn ; the parching renders the grain tender, easily masticated and digestible. Like the jerked beef, it is deprived of most of its moisture.

As a result of this observation, the Army created an emergency ration which was composed mainly of powdered evaporated beef, and parched and cooked wheat. To this was added a small quantity of sweetened chocolate. In 1907, this emergency ration was authorized. It was packed in tins, vacuum sealed, and weighed 1 pound; its ingredients consisted of evaporated beef powder, cooked and parched wheat, sweet chocolate, and salt and pepper for seasoning.

Improved reserve ration

In October of 1922, the War Department approved a reserve ration which was made up of the following components:

16 oz. meat 14 oz. hard bread
.6 oz. soluble coffee 2.4 oz. granulate sugar
extract tablets

Further improvements on the Reserve Ration were accomplished in 1927.

Kinds of rations

In the late 1920’s, the American Army provided four types of rations:

The Garrison Ration

The Travel Ration

The Reserve Ration

The Field Ration

New developments and a considerable amount of research brought about several changes in ration during the 1930’s. The emergency ration which in 1922 had been replaced by the reserve ration, was incorporated in the field ration, and later it became field ration D. AR 30-2210, 15 March 1940, lists in place of the reserve ration, the Filipino ration.

Field ration D

Field ration D was developed by Colonel Paul P. Logan, who worked on its development from 1933 to 1937. This ration in no way resembled the old World War I ration, which has been called the Armour ration, or the reserve ration of 1922. It consisted of a chocolate bar, stabilized to a high melting point by the inclusion of oat flour, and it provided 600 calories. Three 4-ounce chocolate bars provided one ration.

Field ration D proved to be convenient and versatile; it can be called the first modern emergency ration. Because it did not provide the soldier with 3 full, palatable, and nutritionally balanced meals per day, it was felt that another ration was needed. Early in 1932, a Sanitary Corps Reserve officer submitted “a balanced meal in a can”, which consisted of a pound of stew composed of 12 vegetables, and 9 meats mixed in the proportions supposedly required to make a well-balanced meal and alleged to contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Further development in ration research

Little attention was given to this can of food until in 1937 when W. R. McReynolds, the first director of the new Subsistence Research Laboratory inaugurated studies for the purpose of revising the reserve ration, and supplementing it with prepared meals in tin cans, such as beef stew, beef with noodles, etc. In 1938, Major McReynolds completed his work on the ration and called it a combat ration. It was presented to the Quartermaster Corps Technical Committee which approved it with the recommendation that a further study be made with a view to increase the caloric value of the ration. On 1 November, 1939, the Adjutant General announced the adoption of field ration C. It consisted of 3 cans containing a meat and vegetable component, and 3 cans, containing crackers, sugar, and soluble coffee; it furnished 2974 calories, 114 grams of protein, and an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.

The K ration

Neither the C nor the D ration filled the need for a special ration suitable for use in highly mobile warfare. The D ration was intended to allay worst hunger of a single missed meal; the C ration was considered too heavy and bulky for mobile units. Dr. Ancel Keys, Director of the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene at the University of Minnesota, first suggested a ration to be used for parachute troops, tank corps, motorcycle troops and other mobile units. Several organizations worked on the specifications prescribed by Dr. Keyes for such a ration. The final results of this work was the ration officially designated as field ration, type K. The letter K had no particular significance; it was chosen merely to have a phonetically different letter from the letters C and D. The K ration was officially adopted in 1942. It was packed in 8 units, and yielded approximately 8300 calories, 99 grams of protein, and was slightly under specifications in minerals and vitamins as recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.

The 10-in-1 ration

The possibility of packaging the type B field ration in units of 10, with an approximate weight of 50 pounds, was suggested as early as 1941. But little or nothing was done about this suggestion until the spring of 1943. At that time, conditions in the battle areas called for such a type of ration. The purpose of this ration was to serve as the principle ration for subsistence of troops in all areas in advance of the field kitchen, but prior to engaging in actual combat, for troops isolated in small groups, and for highly mobile troops. The general specifications for the ration were set in early 1948, and by the end of April of the same year the project had been completed. Several late changes were effected on the ration before it was finally adopted in the fall of 1943.
The 10-in-1 ration is composed of 5 menus, varying in calories between 8500-4050 and supplying between 91 and 121 grams of protein. The vitamin and mineral content was slightly below requirements, and the ration weighed 5 more pounds than specifications called for. The present 5-in-1 ration replaces the 10-in-1 ration.


As World War II came to a close, the various special rations which had provided the American soldier ample nourishment during combat, had more or less outlived their usefulness. Work in research never ceased, and knowledge gained from experience will play an important part in the rations of tomorrow.

If we compare the first American ration with the various rations fed our men during the last fighting period, we can realize how much effort and thought has gone into this phase of Army development. It is difficult to understand how the men who fought our early wars were able to get along on a diet which was as monotonous and unpalatable as the rations which they were expected to consume. The American of Revolutionary and Civil War days was a rugged individual who was not only frugal, but through dire necessity was forced to be resourceful.

Ration development and improvement in peacetime

This brings us to the present-day interim; the peace-time Army, using the knowledge gained through World War II experiences, is preparing, developing, and testing suitable items of the ration for future global warfare under any and all conditions. This task is a difficult and an endless one, for rations must be continually appraised. As technological advances are made in the field of food research, they must be applied, insofar as possible, to improving the stability, acceptability, nutritional adequacy, and utility of the standard rations used by the Armed Forces.

The starting point in ration development

As a starting point in the development of new rations, or in the improvement of standardized rations, it is necessary to know the situation under which the ration must be provided. Typical questions which must be raised on each ration are these: Is its nutrient content adequate? Will it be palatable? Is it acceptable to the troops? What will be its effect on general health and biochemical balance? Is there sufficient variety? Can it be packaged sturdily and compactly? Is it of minimum weight and bulk? Can it be transported, air-dropped if necessary? Is it stable under a broad range of climatic conditions? Affirmative answers to these questions are necessary for the development of the proper item.

Basis for ration planning

Based upon possible tactical situations the following feeding conditions have been evolved as the foundation for ration planning:

UNIT FEEDING. This is considered the normal situation; kitchen equipment is provided the unit for cooking the food to serve the troops, and the rations can be supplied through the normal channels.

SMALL DETACHMENT FEEDING. This situation is represented by radar or weather stations, tank crews, patrols, and similar small groups. Normal kitchen facilities cannot be used, but the rations required can be furnished.

INDIVIDUAL FEEDING. There are times when kitchen facilities are not available, and bulk rations cannot be furnished. Examples of this situation are troops actively engaged in combat, or an amphibious landing on hostile shores which makes survival impossible if resupply by groups cannot be established. In situations of this type, it is essential to have individual rations which can be carried on the person.

Since the emergency still exists at this writing, the garrison ration is not being considered in present-day planning. Because the field-ration system now in use has filled the needs of a variety of situations, it is doubtful that the Army will revert back to the old monetary system, even during times of peace, since the field-ration system has proven its worth.

Standard Field Rations, Packets, and Supplement Packs

So as to best fulfill the military subsistence needs under many conditions, the field rations, food packets, and ration supplement packs have been designed for use in war or national emergency.
The rations now considered as standard which have been developed, and for which improvement has been indicated are:

  1. Ration- standard
    a) Ration, field A
    b) Ration, operational B
    c) Ration, small detachment, 5-in-1
    d) Ration, combat, type E
    e) Ration, individual, combat, C-2
    f) Ration, individual, combat, C-3
    g) Ration, individual, combat, C-4

Field Ration A

As mentioned in the history of the rations, fighting men, in the early stories of our country subsisted on foods found locally. It was not until the number of troops became too large to be supported by the local vicinity, and it became necessary to deliver food from other areas, that food or ration issue became common. This was the beginning of what is known as the ration, field, type A.

What is it?

The A ration at the present time, may be defined as the finest food available for feeding troops who have the benefit of organized kitchens and refrigeration facilities. Seasonal and regional food preferences, environmental factors, racial and economic food habits, food waste and nutritional loss are the problems now under study, and on which data are being accumulated.

How issued?

It is issued in kind, and no ration savings are allowed. For. troops in the field, this ration issued as often as circumstances will permit.

Master-Menu as basis for issue

The kitchen personnel is furnished, by OQMG (Office of Quartermaster General), a Master Menu covering a 30-day period. This menu serves as a guide for the preparation of 3 nutritionally balanced and palatable meals a day. Based on the Master Menu, specific quantities of available foods are issued daily, per 100 men, for preparation and consumption.

Components of the A ration

The food items supplied in the A ration are of the grocery-store type, and will normally contain a maximum of perishable items. The ration is made up of approximately 200 items, including fresh meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dairy products. Due to the fact that this ration contains perishables, it may normally be utilized only where refrigeration is available.

Necessary equipment

Cooking equipment necessary for the preparation of food in the ration includes the field range, small detachment cooking outfit, field bake oven, insulated food containers, and cafeteria trays.

Nutritive value

The value of this ration meets all nutritive requirements as specified in AR 40-250.

Field Ration B

Ration, operational, B, as it now stands, may be defined as the best substitute for the A ration under conditions where kitchens are available, but refrigeration facilities are not. This ration follows the menu plan of the A ration with non-perishables replacing the fresh foods of the latter. In addition to the problems of food acceptance and nutrition concerning the A ration, there are B ration problems that involve the study of space and weight limitations.

Components of the B ration

Representative components of the B ration include the following: canned meats, cereal and cereal products, canned fruits, canned milk products, and canned vegetables and legumes.

The B ration prior to World War I was not used extensively. Even at the beginning of the second World War, the components of the ration were limited and consisted only of such items as canned tomatoes, bacon, canned corned beef and sardines. Nevertheless, due to longer lines of supply and the lack of sufficient, available local fresh foods, the B ration attained a far greater use in overseas theaters than the A ration. Today, it provides a wide range in variety of canned and processed foods.

Necessary equipment

Field cooking equipment may well be utilized in the preparation of this ration, and it includes the field range, small detachment cooking outfit, field bake oven, insulated food containers, and individual mess equipment.

Nutritive value

Ration, operational, B, meets the nutritive requirements as specified by AR 40-250.

Ration, small detachment, 5-in-1

Ration, small detachment, 5-in-1, is designed for conditions where small groups of men are able to prepare hot meals with rudimentary cooking facilities, or where large groups may be divided into bodies of 5 or 10 men for the purpose of feeding themselves. Specifically, the necessity for such a ration is predicated on its usefulness to tank or armored vehicle crews when committed, to anti-aircraft automatic weapons organizations when gun crews are separated by considerable distances from the battery kitchens, and to troops traveling by rail without kitchen cars. The utility of this ration has proved to be excellent in field tests, but problems related to menu-planning and nutritional balance remain to be solved.

Components of the 5-in-1 ration

The ration provides food for 5 men for 1 day. The components of the ration are placed in one case; the case and contents weigh 27 pounds, and it can easily be carried by one man.

The 5 menus contain combinations of 10 canned meat items, canned bread, or type V biscuits, 3 types of pudding, 5 kinds of jam, 6 kinds of vegetables, sugar, milk, beverages, confections, cheese spread, butter spread, and accessory items consisting of cigarettes, can openers, toilet tissue, soap, water-purification tablets, sponge, cellulose tape, and paper towels.

Variety of menu helps avoid monotony

One of the advantages of this ration is the provision of 5 different menus, which lends variety in cases where small detachments may be forced to use the ration for more than one successive day. Each case contains one menu; the case is properly labeled Menu No.1, etc., enabling the consumer to select the desired menu.

Necessary equipment

Field cooking equipment is required for the preparation of this ration. Cooking equipment utilized for the preparation of the 5-in-1 ration may be in the form of small detachment cooking outfit, or individual mess equipment.

Nutritive value

From a nutritional point of view, this ration averages 4000 calories, and adequately meets all other nutritive requirements.

New combat ration replace C rations used in World War II

Ration, combat, type E was developed to replace the old C and K rations. Reports from overseas indicated that the latter were often used interchangeably, and that both rations had certain desirable and certain undesirable characteristics. A ration combining the favorable features of both rations, and completely fulfilling the military requirements of combat conditions would avoid the possibility of duplication. It was in answer to this need, that the E ration developed. By actual use of the E ration, it was discovered that the bread component of the ration was undesirable. Because of this fact, the ration was declared obsolete, and has been replaced by ration, individual, combat, C-2.

The C-2 ration

This ration is described in TB QM 53, Department of the Army, dated March, 1948, as an individual ration which consists of packaged precooked foods which can be eaten. hot or cold; it replaces the old C ration, and more recently, the E ration. It can be carried and prepared by the individual soldier. The ration was designed for feeding combat troops from a few days to an extreme of three weeks. Due to the required individual portability of this ration, maximum nourishment had to be provided in the smallest physical unit. The components of this ration were prepared in 5 different menus. Each menu includes an accessory packet which consists of essential toilet articles, tobacco, and confections. It is contemplated that as modifications develop, the ration will be classified as C-3, C-4. etc. C-2 has been modified, and is currently filed as C-2, with the modified version being called C-3.

The C-3 ration

The figure “3” in “C-3” represents the third revision of specifications for components of what was known originally as the C ration. This ration is composed of 5 full menus of a greater variety, and in addition to the new and improved B (bread) and M (meat) units, each menu contains an accessory packet, fruit, and cigarettes. The ration weighs 88½ oz., and is packed in 8 small cans; 3 of the cans, 1 for each meal, contain M (meat) components, which offer any one of 10 different varieties of meat; 3 more cans, again, 1 for each meal, include B (bread) components consisting of a unit of .5 crackers and 2 cookie sandwiches, a unit of pre-mixed cereal, jam, crackers, soluble coffee, sugar, cocoa disc, and another unit of crackers and jam. In addition, the C-3 contains 1-12 oz. can of fruit, the accessory packet, and cigarettes with matches. Field cooking equipment is not required. for the preparation of this ration. The C-3 ration is more adequate than the original C ration in respect to its nutritional value.

The C-4 ration

Ration, individual, combat C-4 has been developed recently, and is a modification of the C-3 ration. One modification of the C-3 ration will be the issue of 2-6 oz. cans of fruit for 2 meals to replace the 1-12 oz. can issued for one meal in the C-3. ration.

The flight ration has been added to “kinds of rations”

These rations constitute the standard field-type rations existing, in addition to the garrison and the Filipino rations. Listed also in Change 10 of AR 30-2210 is the newer ration developed for the Air Force, known as the flight ration. This ration is prescribed for in-flight feeding of personnel on aircraft, who are expected to participate in flights in excess of 3 hours at a specified or subsequent date, or for a definite period. It is issued in kind, and no ration savings are allowed. Menus and issue charts for flight rations are prepared and distributed by the Commanding General, Army Air Forces, in conjunction with the Office of The Quartermaster General. A sandwich-type meal is issued, one type for a 3 to 8 hour flight, and another for an 8 to 16 hour flight In general, its components include sandwiches, fruit juice, coffee, sugar, soup, snacks, candy, canned fruit, and paper products such as wax paper, paper boxes and bags, spoons, and cups.

Emergency packets do not meet the nutritional needs of the soldier

In order to provide some nourishment for the Armed Forces in time of emergency, when rations are not available, food packets are currently being developed. Food packets are not to be construed as rations. To obtain the differentiation between balanced rations with sufficient calories, and the emergency subsistence which lacks adequate calories, the term, “food packets, individual” is used. This emergency food consists of pre-cooked or prepared foods which may be eaten hot or cold. The primary purpose of packaging subsistence in this manner is to provide food for the individual under operating conditions when kitchens are not available, and when there are not immediate means of planned resupply. Minimum bulk and weight are of utmost importance. In order that minimum bulk and weight characteristics may be adhered to, the caloric content of these packets is low; therefore the packet does not constitute a ration. The following packets are currently in the developmental stage:

The assault packet

The food packet, individual assault, is designed to provide food to the individual soldier engaged in assault. The packet can easily be carried. Fuel tablets required for heating are included in the packet; however, the food may be eaten either hot or cold.

Components of the assault packet

The components of this food packet at the present time are as follows: 3 cans of meat, 1 can of fruit, 1 can of cookies, and 1 can of confections. The food in this packet should not be utilized for other than the phase of battle for which it is being designed, usually not to exceed 24 to 30 hours.

Survival food packet

Food packet, individual, survival, is an emergency packet which is still in the developmental stage. It is designed as an item of personal equipment for all military personnel participating in active operations by land, sea, or air, intended to be carried on the person as a means of reassurance that when all other means fail, he will still have something to eat.

Supplement packs reinforce certain rations

Supplementary food and sundries are required under combat conditions. In the handling of rations, certain small components, such as spices and condiments, can be packaged together for ease in distribution. Supplementary food is required for hospital and aid stations to provide such items as soups and beverages. The sundries are soldier-comfort items, such as toilet articles, that are issued with a ration as a means of distributing them to the soldier. Examples of such packs are as follows:

Ration supplement, sundries pack

Ration, supplement, sundries pack, is designed as a supplement to the ration, field, A, and ration, operational, B, and will be made available to the theaters of operation. It is composed of items necessary to the health and comfort of troops, for example, essential toilet articles, tobacco, and confections that are normally obtainable through the Army Exchange Service. The purpose of this pack is to provide for issuance of these items prior to the establishment of adequate sales facilities. The pack is not normally issued concurrently with ration, individual, combat, or ration, small, detachment, or food packet, individual, assault, because these rations contain an accessory packet as part of their basic components which have the same items as this ration supplement, sundries pack.

Ration supplement, spice pack, kitchen

The ration supplement, spice pack, kitchen, provides spices and condiments for issue with the ration, field A, or ration, operational, B, and is used to facilitate break-down and issue in the field.

Ration supplement, special items pack, hospital

The ration supplement, special items pack, hospital provides special nourishment such as additional fruit juices, soups, and milk for hospitalized patients.

Rations supplement, special items pack, aid station

The ration supplement, special items pack, aid station, is designed to provide special nourishment at medical aid stations.

Some problems encountered in ration development

It is not within the scope of this pamphlet to describe the multitudinous research which goes on continuously in the study of rations for an Army which has been called “the best fed Army in the world”.. Problems of packaging, minimum weight and bulk, processing and manufacturing, distribution, the effect of the Army’s use of food on the supply needed by civilians, all these factors must be carefully considered. Currently, many types of rations are being developed and tested. It is a hope of the future that out of research will evolve the right type of a ration for the right type of an operation; other problems, too, will be solved in the future, and that of classifying each ration to the group to which it belongs, as well as to give each ration a standard system of nomenclature falls into the category of “work to be completed”.

Civilian food and military rations

The major objective of rations development is to contribute to an efficient Army; and, as a means of doing so, to provide the soldier with suitable food under all circumstances. An Army ration, as defined in AR 30-2210, is “the allowance of food for the subsistence of one person for one day”. Many complexities have evolved from this apparently simple definition.

First and most obvious is the distinction implied between civilian food and military rations. In civilian life responsibility for obtaining food usually belongs to the individual; in military life, the responsibility for obtaining as well as for distributing and preparing the food for millions of individual soldiers is charged to command. However, before the food reaches the individual soldier it goes through many channels. Roughly, the movement may be described as follows: After the food is produced by industry and delivered to the Army, it moves from depots and warehouses to ports of embarkation (or to domestic stations). The port of embarkation ships according to requisitions received through the overseas commander. The food is delivered to ports of debarkation, thence to overseas depot supply installations in the communications zone. From these centers the food is distributed to Army supply installations in the combat zone, to the ration dumps of divisions, then to regiments and battalions. The final breakdown is made to the companies, batteries, squadrons, and other organizations which operate as mess units. The task of moving food supplies to overseas theaters is a difficult one, as is shown by the channels covered by the movement of food. All these problems are tied in with ration development.


Though rations themselves may always be in a state of change, the principles of ration planning remain constant. Ration problems will always be military problems and ration development a part of military development; it is necessary, therefore, that ration planning, which is only one part of military planning, keep abreast of developments in military techniques. It is equally necessary that ration planners be aware of the latest advancements in subsistence technology so that these may either be utilized to fulfill better the existing military requirements or to meet new ones, or be stimulated to the point where these requirements may be fulfilled.

The history of American warfare shows it has been possible for this country to win wars despite inadequate rations. It shows also that such inadequacy has done more than increase odds against victory-primarily, it has put the soldier under a greater strain than he should endure in operations. Though an Army must necessarily function with the impersonality of a machine, its efficiency is in the last analysis dependent upon the ability of the individual men who compose it to do at any time whatever they are called upon to do. If they are fed poorly, their fighting efficiency will drop. Moreover, since soldiers are not machines, not only will their ability to act be impaired, but their will to do so decreases in proportion. This is particularly true for a citizen Army, the kind which has always protected the United States in times of emergency. A man, who has not in the first place chosen fighting as his profession, would not be likely to become a better soldier if he gets too little food or if he is often confronted with distasteful or completely unfamiliar food.

Ration planning has to find its way through two extremes: the best possible food available for the soldier, and the most convenient, least complicated, least space consuming and labor-consuming food to send him.

Research is finding its way in ration development. And, for this reason, it is believed that the American Army will always have the best fed soldier in the world.

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