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Getting closer to--Less Awful?

The results of this research did not just motivate troop command and rations directorates, but reached into the highest office of the Kremlin. Leonid Brezhnev is quoted as saying: “We should not only see to our soldiers having enough of the right foods to continue fighting, we must also take pains to not poison them ourselves”.

 

Being unable to address all of the sanitation/transportation issues, but realizing that something needed to be done in a hurry, troop commands were issued two new types of rations:

One was a garrison/company-sized ration, consisting of more canned goods and pan-climatically packaged dry goods, such as potato flakes, noodles, barley, oats, pasta, buckwheat, bread mixes and soup bases. This was easier to transport or air-supply, had much improved shelf life, and could be prepared by individual soldiers or mess sections, even though it was by no means a portable ration that could be issued to individual troops for dismounted operations.  (There is, however, an instance where a Russian soldier was found to carry three (!!!) 6-pound tins of corned beef in his small pack when he was captured).

The other was the “Improved” or “Mountain” ration introduced in spring of 1980. While still quite similar to the less-than desirable “Preserved” ration of the 1970s in many aspects (multiple bright-metal tins and white labels with accessory items in a plain plastic bag), the Mountain ration was scaleable from the outset, and could be ordered by commanders based on mission needs as either a “basic” ration (supplied as an occasional substitute for mess hall or group-feeding rations), or an “enhanced” ration with supplements aside from the food stuffs contained in the ‘basic’ pouch. Each pouch was meant as a 24-hour ration for low-activity garrison or guard duty in relatively manageable weather conditions when a field mess was impractical. The ‘basic’ mountain ration came in the following configurations:

 

afghanruss3.jpg
MENU "A"--With Supplemental Biscuit and Loaves

Menu “A”

-Two cans of meat dishes. These could be any combination of: ‘Chicken

 with Dumplings’, ‘Chicken with Noodles’, ‘Beef with Vegetables’, ‘Ham

 and Potatoes’ or ‘Stewed Beef with Tomatoes’. Interestingly enough,

 these cans actually had pop-tops like most cans in use today, but the

 lids and pop-and-pry assemblies were not very sturdy. They are also

 missing any instructions/safety warnings as one would see on Western

 cans of this type.

-One pack of Kasha (Instant Gruel/Porridge). This

 came in both Buckwheat and Oatmeal Varieties, 

 flavored either with Pork, Chicken or Fruit

 flavor. As the clear plastic package was simply

 stamped “Instant Kasha”, no one ever quite knew 

 what they would have for breakfast.

-Three tagged tea bags, laconically marked “Tea” on the front of the tag

 and “Sufficient for Liter  (16oz)” on the back.

-Three servings of sugar, in clear bags imprinted “SUGAR”, containing 15gr (1/2oz) each

menub.jpg
Menu "B"--Note the Bar Codes!

Menu “B”

            -Two cans of Kasha with meat (buckwheat Kasha)

             in either pop-tops (on this ration after 1981) or 

             standard tins requiring a can opener. An 

             interesting aside on this is that most of the

             Kasha tins were marked with bar-coded labels

             as far back as 1980

            -One can of Kasha with fruit (Oatmeal Kasha).

             These were also bar-coded

-Three tagged tea bags, as in Menu “A” 

-Three servings of sugar, as in Menu “A”

Menu “C”

            -One can of meat (Tushonka) or a Meat Dish as supplied in Menu “A”

            -One can of Fish (Sprats) in commercially labeled tin (Both Pop-top and

             standard tins encountered)

-One can of Vegetables or a Potato dish (Both pop-top and standard tins

encountered)

            -One tagged tea bag in a plastic bag

-One unmarked plastic bag of a fruit drink mix (From personal test, flavor appears to be “Yellowish and sweet” and “Pinkish and sweet”—no really distinguishable taste past that)

            -One plastic pack with 4 sugar tablets marked “SUGAR”

Listed as ‘Supplemental Food’, additional add-on ration components were issued on an as-needed basis. Even though the issue of this sort of supplement was often mishandled by both the supply system and requesting commanders, it was generally well received by the frontoviks who had to battle both the enemy and the unforgiving terrain and weather of Afghanistan. (In one case a Colonel with a group of female ‘assistants’ instructed his supply officer that all available lots of a chocolate wafer be delivered to his office, only).

 

These supplemental rations were designed to bump the scant average 1,200 calorie count of the Mountain Ration up to twice or thrice that value for both overall health and stamina of troops engaged in vigorous activity including combat. Even the ‘Basic’ portion of the mountain ration was recognized as being too little food, and was generally supplemented by issuing fresh foods, cheese and bread alongside them.

 
Need Some Red Repro Rations?
 
Reenacting or Paintballing Chechnya or the Day the Bear went over the Mountain?
 
This will open in a new window, Comrade!  
 

Authorized issues of ‘Supplemental Food’ included:

 

1 or 2 packs of sweet biscuits or wafers in assorted flavors. Some were plain white wrappers, others featured commercial labels, depending on the manufacturer. These were generally well liked by troops, and packed a nutritional punch at approx. 500 calories per package. These generally were eaten with tea as a light in-between meal on stops or while securing a perimeter. The biscuit varieties were frequently crushed up and soaked in the tea to make a sweet cereal-like meal.

 

50gr paper bags/wraps of assorted hard candy. Even though these were excellent to keep one’s mouth moist and a good source of calories, the fact that these were wax-paper label wrapped candy in paper bags allowed them to melt in one’s pocket, stick to most anything, and constantly be peppered with sand and dirt. Many troops would actually carry small leather pouches to secure their candy stash.

 

1 or 2 packs of sugar. These were either plastic packs of loose granulated sugar, or plastic-sealed sugar tablets.

 

armyloaves1986.jpg
"ARMY LOAVES" High Nutrition Crackers

1 or 2 packs of “Army Loaves” crackers

 

1 or 2 tins of additional meat rations  (80gr “Sausage Stuffing” was fairly common)

 

1 or 2 tins of Jam (50gr) or honey

 

1 tin (10-16oz) of condensed soup, generally commercially labeled

 

1 Vitamin candy/day

Make sure to bookmark this page- More pictures and articles coming soon.

 

Upcoming articles:

 

-Red Scorpion Fodder--Specialist Rations

-For a Few Rubles More--Rations purchased from shops

-Eating While Opposing Muslim Uprisings Part Deux--The IRP-P ration used in Chechnya