Australian troops unhappy with European foodI can personally attest that the food served in our army mess halls are of an incredibly high quality with a huge choice of different meal types.
June 03, 2009 12:21pm
WAR rations have improved since Anzacs were given tea, sugar, biscuits and canned meat at Gallipoli but it doesn't mean Australian soldiers don't have a beef with what's being served up.As Napoleon famously said - though some claim it was Frederick the Great - an army marches on its stomach.
But Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston is concerned Australian soldiers are not being fed enough, or what they like, for the job at hand.
Senator Johnston told a Senate estimates committee soldiers based in Tarin Kowt in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province had been complaining about their food for a long time.
Troops had passed on complaints about the "lousy" food, Senator Johnson says, to both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon on recent visits.
Food is mainly supplied by the Dutch, which commands the provincial reconstruction taskforce in the province.
Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston defended the soldiers' diet.
"Our soldiers all the way through have had the required amount of calories and the food has been of a very high standard," he said.
"I think the issue is, it's not Aussie food, it's European food and it's pre-prepared.
"When you're in coalition, the catering is most normally provided by somebody else."
A major issue seems to be that while general troops are taking their supplies from the Dutch, their colleagues in the elite special forces have their own cooks dishing up the grub.
"Essentially, special forces have been eating Aussie food," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
Defence is working to improve the food arrangements for soldiers, deploying more cooks, bringing in freezers, barbecues and other equipment, as well as additional supplies to supplement the rations.
"There will be more access to typical Aussie food," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
"I'd like to assure you right from the outset there's been absolutely nothing wrong with the European food, it's just different from Aussie food.
"I've eaten that food myself and I've had no problems with it."
In total, 10 cooks will eventually be deployed to vary the diet of the soldiers.
The logistics of setting up a kitchen in a war zone will take time, so in the meantime Defence is working with the Dutch to provide more "balance" to the soldiers' diet.
The change will come at a cost.
"We are talking in terms of probably a cost of $2 million. It's a substantial change," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
Even the pre-packaged ration packs are quite edible. A typical one-person pack for 24 hours contains the following
Chunky Chicken & Vegetables 1 x 250 mL
Beverage powder: Sport, lemon and lime 1 x 12 g
Biscuit: Brigadoon shortbread 1 x 33 g
Fruit Grains: Apricot 1 x 15 g
Muesli Bar: Apricot and Coconut 1 x 32 g
Muesli Bar: Forest Fruits 1 x 32 g
Chocolate: Ration 1 x 50 g
Spaghetti and Meatballs 1 x 250 mL
Beverage powder: Sport, orange 1 x 12 g
Chewing Gum: Juicy Fruit 1 x pkt 4
Fruit Spread: Peach 1 x 26 g
Sauce: Tomato ketchup 1 x 15 g
Confectionary: Cream chocolate 1 x 50 g
Freeze dried rice 1 x 55 g
Soup: low salt, chicken flavour 1 x 30 g
Sauce: chilli, sweet 1 x 10 g
Fruit: Peaches, diced, canned 1 x 140 g
Biscuit: Jam Sandwich Type 2 1 x 45 g
Candy: chocolate 1 x 60g
Beverage powder: Chocolate 1 x 40 g
Biscuit: Crispbread 1 x 34 g
Cheese: Cheddar 1 x 56 g
Milk: Condensed, sweetened 1 x 85 g
Beverage: Coffee, instant 2 x 3.5 g
Pepper: Black 1 x 2 g
Vegetable extract 1 x 15 g
Sugar 8 x 7 g
Beverage: Tea bags, pot 2 x 2.5 g
Candy: Hard 2 x 30 g
Muesli Bar: Tropical fruits 1 x 32 g
Salt 1 x 2 g
See also ADF News and MREInfo.
A shame FRED was given the old heave-ho. Thank goodness I had kept a few.