Staying with the Baltic Nations theme for the next couple of Field Rations articles, I now take a look at the Estonian 24-Hour ICR, writes Bob Morrison.
This particular Individual Combat Ration, or ICR, is the Kaitseväe Kuivtoidupakk (Defence Dry Food Pack) as consumed by Estonian troops of the Baltic Battalion deployed to CENAD San Gregorio, near Zaragoza in Spain, on the massive multinational Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2015. Our sample was provided by one of the Maavägi (Estonian Land Forces) media team just before we left the Spanish training area near the conclusion of the Joint Land Heavy Military Demonstration.
Intended to provide sustenance for 24 hours for one combat soldier in the field, this Estonian ICR (Menu No.7) provides 3,453 kcal of energy and weighs 1.56kg. Primarily tinned, rather than freeze-dried or retort pouch type, the contents are loose packed in a tough but lightweight light coyote tan coloured polythene pouch measuring roughly 300mm wide by 350mm long when empty and flattened. Shelf life appeared to be three years as I was given this ration, packed in Estonia by AS Smarten Logistics, in early November 2014 and the Best Before date printed on the white contents label was 14th October 2017.
The constituents of Menu No.7 were intended to provide the soldier with three meals plus snacks. In this case: Expedition Breakfast; tinned Vegetable Hotpot with Meat and tinned Chicken in Gelatine; tinned Buckwheat Porridge with Beef; plus Swiss Army Chocolate bar, Halva confectionery bar, 2x Fruit Sweets and 3x Salted Crackers. Drinks included were Coffee, Lemon Tea and Energy Drink powder along with 4x sugar, 2x creamer, 2x salt and 1x pepper sachets plus three disinfectant wipe sachets, a box of matches and a resealable plastic bag for waste.
Ever keen to taste different nations’ foods, I tried out each of the dishes when back home in the UK. The freeze-dried Expedition Breakfast was a tasty cereal, milk, apple and raisin commercial product, from Dutch company Adventure Food BV, which required 0.17 litres of hot water to reconstitute. All three tinned meal components were also commercial products with ring-pull tops for easy opening. The 400g hotpot, with Estonian and Russian labelling, was an Estonian product and was closer to a ‘big soup’ type broth than a hotpot in my opinion. The chicken (240g) was also Estonian and, curiously, was of the same brand (Ranna-Roosti) as the Turkey tin in the Italian Razione Viveri Da Combattimento I also picked up on TRJE15. The buckwheat porridge (400g), also branded Ranna-Roosti, was a new one on me and was a minced beef and beef heart stew with grain; I found this one interesting, but rather bland for my taste-buds.
On the minor food items side, the three foil packs of salted crackers (25g) contained two biscuits each, the Swiss Army dark chocolate with guarana (50g) was produced by the company Royal Army in Switzerland, the halva (a nut-based confectionery) bar was foil-wrapped with no manufacturer details and the fruit sweets in two coyote tan coloured 30g foil pouches were supplied by by OrifO. The energy drinks pouch was also supplied by OrifO of Denmark, a brand found in many nations’ ration packs, and the other drinks included were a teabag and a coffee bag in a foil sachet. Matches were included but there were no tissues and no spoon.
Quality of all components was good and although the main components were most likely geared to Estonian taste buds I found them very palatable and sustaining – though that rum-flavoured halva bar was a bit too sweet and sickly for me.
In the second part of this feature on Estonian combat rations I will roll the clock forward to the multinational Exercise KEVADTORM 2017, where I sampled from another production batch while out in the field.
[ Images © Bob Morrison ]
[ Images © Bob Morrison ]