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Field Rations 22 ~ US MRE Part 3 ~ MCW

In this third part of the US Army Meal Ready to Eat, or MRE, series we look at the primary ‘white bag’ Meal Cold Weather variations, writes Bob Morrison.

As previously mentioned, the standard MRE is only intended for use in temperate and hot (arid) deployment theatres. For cold weather deployments, particularly into the Arctic, ration packs with a higher calorific value are issued.

The Meal, Cold Weather replaced the Ration Cold Weather from around 2005 [©BM]

When we worked alongside the US Marines in Arctic Norway during Exercise BATTLE GRIFFIN 2005 they were still finishing off the last of the white bag Rations, Cold Weather (RCW) but also had some of the then new Meal, Cold Weather (MCW). Naturally, we ‘proffed’ the new one when offered a sample to take home, though we sampled both types during that exercise; incidentally, although the MCW appears to have been produced until at least June of this year, during the recent TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 in late autumn in mid-Norway we only saw US Marines consuming standard MREs from tan bags rather MCWs from white bags.

The US Defense Logistics Agency states: “ The Meal, Cold Weather is intended for cold weather feeding, it will not freeze and supplies extra drink mixes for countering dehydration during cold weather activities. It can be issued at three per day for a complete cold weather ration. The MCW is packaged in a white camouflage pouch similar to the RCW.”

MCW Menu 1, clockwise from left: Entrée, Peanut Butter, Beverage, Cappuccino, Accessory Pack, Fig Bar and Crackers plus Spoon in centre right [©BM]

There are, as far as I have been able to determine, still twelve MCW menus and each contains dehydrated entrée courses rather than ready-to-eat ‘wet pouch’ main meals. Each menu provides approximately 1540 calories, some 300 calories more than the MRE and giving an increased daily intake of almost 1000 calories to replenish loss of energy from exertion in extreme cold.. Energy intake is still 50% carbohydrate, but proteins are increased slightly to 15%, with the remaining 35 percent being fat. About 35 fluid ounces, roughly a litre, of clean water is required to hydrate the meal components; in the Arctic water, either from melted snow or running under ice, is usually quite plentiful.

The MCW main course, or entrée, was freeze-dried and had to be rehydrated with clean water [©BM]

Our MCW, Menu 1, had Oriental-Style Spicy Chicken & Vegetables with Rice as its main course with MRE crackers and peanut butter for afters. There was also a fig bar plus a large white foil sachet of cappuccino powder, which required six fluid ounces of either hot or cold water to reconstitute it. As with the standard MRE, there was also a pouch of Beverage Base Powder (Lemon-Lime) plus an MRE accessory pack and spoon. All foil pouches inside the white MCW were also white, with detailed nutritional information printed either on both sides or, if instructions are printed on one side, on the reverse.

To be continued…

{ images © Bob Morrison unless noted }

Matches were designed for damp climates, but text on cover stated they would not work when wet [©BM]

Toilet tissue, both unwrapped and in brown paper wrap – it smelled as if it may have be antiseptic treated [©BM]

Last of the Ration Cold Weather – photographed on an exercise in Northern Norway in 2005 [©BM]

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