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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ration supply distribution and frequency

Rations, in the Army, are routinely distributed three times a week, unless operational requirements calls for something different; let’s say maybe a daily distribution.

While this is somewhat unusual; it may be exactly what is required. This was actually the case much of the time I was in support of this mission in Alaska. The maneuver units, infantry, armor and artillery were without the facilities to maintain and move rations around unless they were utilizing C rations solely—this they could handle for a short duration. The rest of the brigade units: engineer, support, etc had the transportation assets to move their supplies but not the storage facilities. During the summer, while the temperatures didn’t reach extremes, produce left un-refrigerated can spoil very quickly. During winter maneuvers everything freezes after very short periods of time without the ability to maintain some level of temperature control.

On the three times a week schedule; the breaks usually follow a schedule referred to as 2-2-3. This schedule would generally work like this: on Monday, the break would consist of 2 days of rations – Tuesday and Wednesday; on Wednesday, the break would consist of the next 2 days of rations – Thursday and Friday; and then on Friday, the break would consist of the final 3 days of rations – Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The next Monday, the cycle starts all over again. The daily schedule would be referred to as 1-1-1.

The brigade I was assigned to in Alaska was a separate infantry brigade. Transportation assets to any degree existed only in the support battalion—the company I was assigned to was one of the four supply and support units assigned to it: A Company – the administrative and personnel element, B Company – the maintenance and repair parts element, C Company – the medical element and D Company – the supply and transportation element. Command and control was provided through a small headquarters and headquarters detachment.

My Class I Section would draw rations from the nearest commissary officer, sometimes army and sometimes air force, whichever made the most sense to do so from. We always took a 2-2-3 break and then distributed to our supported elements as mission requirements dictated—usually 1-1-1. I had the personnel and storage facilities—tents and heaters not refrigeration units—to maintain and move the rations as required.

Often, this could get to be a quite anxious situation. This was especially true when we were conduction operations in remote locations and had to fly the rations via air force aviation. Arriving at the tail of a big bird with a trailer load of three days rations expecting to load and go only to find out there is a maintenance or weather hold, either in the winter or summer, can cause the hunt for shade or warmth to become a complete scramble to say the least—I’ve been exactly there many times and it is not fun. I’ll tell you about a couple of those sometime.