U.S. Military FSR First Strike Ration

The Feeding Directorate of the Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, MA, has developed a single-package, high-energy ration intended to substitute for the three daily MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) that soldiers carried. First announced in May 2002, and called the First Strike Ration (FSR), it is intended for use by forward-deployed troops in the first 72 hours of field operations to provide the energy that soldiers need during the initial stage of deployment. The combat-driven ration has more carbohydrates, less packaging and no luxury items compared to MREs, intended for soldiers to eat while on the move, requiring no preparation, utensils, or cleanup.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Nye reads the list of contents a First Strike Ration FSR prototype
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Nye reads the list of contents a First Strike Ration FSR prototype.

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Motivation Behind the First Strike Ration (FSR)

Army researchers found that soldiers going into combat will do anything to lighten their load, called "field-stripping". Often, this includes removing less desirable items from their MREs, thereby cutting the MRE's 3,600 calories down to the 2,200 to 2,500 range.

A single FSR pouch holds a full day's food supply for one individual and weighs about 2 1/2 pounds compared to three MREs that weigh about 2 pounds more for a day's food. At about half the weight and size of an MRE, the FSR provides an average of 2,900 calories per ration, matching the Army's goal of becoming lighter, leaner, and more mobile.

In tests of the FSR concept, it proved very popular and was not stripped by soldiers using it. Its success led to requests to ship as many as possible for immediate shipment to Rangers deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Contents of the FSR First Strike Ration

Every food in the FSR is selected for its ability to be eaten out-of-hand for troops on the move. From lessons learned from early concepts, the FSR evolved into a single shrink-wrapped bag packed with a combination of familiar and new ration components, some in current use in MRE menus, some taken from earlier developments that were never used before, and some entirely new ideas.

The early versions contained two shelf-stable pocket sandwiches, two flavors of miniature HooAH! nutritious booster bars, two servings of the Energy Rich Glucose Optimized beverage mix (known as ERGO), a dairy bar, crackers or bread, cheese spread, two sticks of beef jerky, a package of dried fruit, a modified version of applesauce named "Zapplesauce," a Ziploc bag and an accessory packet (missing the MRE's tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce), and wet napkins. Other combinations and new components are expected to evolve.

A favorite component is the Zapplesauce. The product is made with extra maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate, for sustained energy release. Maltodextrin is also the key ingredient in ERGO, which tastes similar to a sports drink. It's intended to increase endurance by conserving glycogen, which is energy stored in the liver and muscles. The ERGO drink packs will have a "fill-to" line so users easily know how much water to pour in.

The shelf life of the FSR is 3 years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27C) and 6 months at 100F (38C). They have to be kept above 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7C) to avoid freezing. No ration heater is included.

The National Stock Number for a case of FSR is 8970-01-584-8759.

Soldier consuming FSR First Strike Ration
Soldier consuming FSR First Strike Ration.

The FSR was field tested by Army special operations troops and Navy SEALs winning approval from all. The FSR shipped to the field in quantity in late 2007.

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