Potted History Of The Field Ration

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The Bundeswehr has produced a video on German field rations. I was interested to learn that the Bundeswehr and East German People's Army rations had similar contents during the Cold War. The East German rations, whose contents were produced in the Soviet Union, were called emergency rations and like the West German equivalent, Einmannpackung (single soldier pack, abbreviated EPa), contained canned bread, the inevitable sausage, cheese, marmalade, tea, coffee extract, chocolate and chewing gum.

Current Bundeswehr EPas exist in nine ready-to-eat variations and 15 to which water must be added and have to be cooked. There are three vegetarian EPas and two containing meat which is not pork, according to the Bundeswehr.

The best field rations I had were while covering NATO Response Force Exercise Cooperative Jaguar in Cape Verde in June 2006. The field rations were provided by the French and included duck, venison, rabbit and powdered asparagus soup.

The last field rations I had were provided by the Italians for the NATO AWACS flight off the Libyan coast I covered last year, and the mainly U.S. crew did not appreciate the ones with calamari, which they said were rubbery.

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