Midrats controversy at Camp Leatherneck

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Midrats controversy at Camp Leatherneck

Getting quite a few emails on this one:

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.

The base, which is located in Afghanistan’s southwestern Helmand Province, flanked by Iran and Pakistan, also will remove its 24-hour sandwich bar. It plans to replace the dishes long offered at midnight with pre-packaged MREs, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore, who has been deployed in Afghanistan since February.

Some of the Leatherneckians are VERY unhappy with this:

"This boils my skin. One of my entire shifts will go 6.5 hours without a meal. If we need to cut back on money I could come up with 100 other places,” one Leatherneck-based Marine wrote in an email this week to his wife and shared with NBC News. (The Marine declined to speak on the record.) “Instead, we will target the biggest contributor to morale. I must be losing my mind. What is our senior leadership thinking? 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.”

First up, probably better ways to handle your discontent than sharing it with the entire world here.  And the hyperbole about MREs kind of rubs me the wrong way:

“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.”

If that is true, then about 1/4 my deployment was done in desperation.  When we were out patrolling, we didn't get hot meals.  We got MREs, more MRE's, and only MRE's.  About halfway through the deployment, something switched in me, and I couldn't stomach the meals anymore.  I could still eat individual packets (like the combo's, or the other side items) but the smell from the main meals just made my stomach turn.  So, I just got tons of flat bread and ate that.  True, probably not very healthy, but it was what it was.

But I'm also not sure I fully buy the statement of reasoning:

“The fact is our force in Afghanistan is shrinking fast and all the creature comforts and services deployed military-members have grown accustomed to over the past decade are going to be reduced," Gilmore wrote in an email to NBC News. “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.”

It's certainly true that we are constricting.  But aren't most of the DFAC workers contractors?  Or do the Marines supply their own?  I know we had Army cooks at FOB Andar when I was there last year, but on Bagram and the larger bases it was all local nationals.

Gretel Kovach from UT San Diego had a fairly good piece on it as well:

“Our primary concerns as we plan and execute the drawdown from Regional Command (Southwest) in Afghanistan are the security and health of our Marines,” Marine Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore, public affairs director, said in an email Friday. “We will not go hungry — but we WILL go expeditionary. That’s OK: We’re good at it.

“MREs aren’t gourmet, but they provide more than enough calories to keep a Marine healthy and fit for combat,” Gilmore added.

That’s if you actually eat the thing. Marines downrange call them Meals Refusing to Exit, among other creative names.

MREs have gotten tastier. I even enjoyed a few of the ones I ate in Afghanistan. An MRE tastes better on a three-day combat mission, with no chow hall in sight and nothing to drink but water hot enough to brew tea.

Tabasco also helps. (Except for veggie omelet. No amount of hot sauce can save that MRE, in this reporter’s opinion.)

Yeah, Tobasco can only go so far unfortunately.

Anyway, so yes, Marines are losing one of their 4 hot meals, and likely to lose at least one more.  That's part of the price we pay I guess for closing down this operation at the pace we are doing in order to get all our men and women out.  But I'm not certain the entire war effort will come to a screeching halt. 


Posted in the burner | 3 comments
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If the presidents wife can take 28 people to Hawaii we should be able to feed our marines

Our Marines go through enough.. At least they should get as many hot meals that America can provide, till the mission end's! If we can build school's and road's,that will be blown up 2 minute's after we leave! Our government should better spend our TAX payer money on our military! Rather than MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SEMINAR'S FOR THE IRS!!! OR OBAMA'S VACATION!! Has this country started taking CRAZY PILL'S???

For perspective these FOBBITS should quit whining and spend some time away from the comforts of Leatherneck, out on a COP. They should be thankful for the 3 hot meals a day they have. It's not just about saving money, it's about the logistics of redeploying thousands of troops and massive amounts of equipment. Yes, they deserve all hot meals and so much more. No, they won't waste away from too much work and not enough calories. Look up the word Expeditionary. It's the second word in the name of the force...Marine Expeditionary Force. Suck it up and drive on.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.