The Marines at Camp Leatherneck, in Afghanistan, lost one hot meal a day on Saturday. Eager to pre-empt criticism, the Pentagon hastily informed the public that no soldier will lose any calories … they will be provided with yummy, nutritious MRE’s (“meals ready-to-eat”). Too late. Outrage is already growing.
MRE’s are pre-packaged, shelf-stable packets provided to soldiers when they are out in the field. Soldiers have carried MRE’s during every battlefield conflict. Where MRE’s have not been utilized is in a soldier’s home camp. There, soldiers are expected to have four meals a day; three hot meals and a sandwich bar.
The meal that has been taken off the roster as of Saturday is the “midrats” better known as the midnight to noon service. This includes hot breakfast and sustenance for soldiers coming off duty. Midrats are, arguably, the most important meal in a soldier’s day. It is the only time that Camp Leatherneck Marines can be together during the 24/7 service they perform in Afghanistan. Oh yes. The Pentagon is removing 24 hour sandwich service, too.
Why is this happening? The reason being given is because of a need to cut down on expenses. There is more to the preposterous excuse; a massive draw-down of troops in Afghanistan, some 30,000 soldiers, requires ancillary workers (e.g. kitchen staff) to be permitted to go home first. You read that right.
Why on earth, since the massive decrease of troops is already saving the government a bundle, should there be a further need to decrease already-Spartan services provided to soldiers remaining on the firing line? Camp Leatherneck is located in Afghanistan’s southwestern Helmand Province, hedged by Pakistan and Iran. This is not the garden spot of the world and any troops remaining in the area, especially as their numbers decrease, are going to be in more danger. Does it make any sense, whatsoever, to deprive them of simple, hot meal?