Some Marines are lamenting that of Saturday, those based at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan are losing a hot midnight meal, which will cause some to miss what used to be their hot breakfast and others to work several without hot food. But this is something that has been getting on and off attention for months — and doesn’t not mean they will be missing out on food completely.
The meal being lost, according to NBC News, is called “midrats” (midnight rations), which was breakfast for soldiers working midnight to noon and dinner for those working noon to midnight. It will be replaced with MREs — meals ready to eat.
The military says that the Marines’ nutrition won’t suffer, but Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL who now is the editor-in-chief of SOFREP.com, told TheBlaze although the meal change seems “trivial” there are nutritional differences not to mention morale implications.
“MRE’s are full of terrible preservatives, regardless of the calorie count, and are not meant to be used for sustained sustenance,” he wrote in an email.
What do Marines serving at Camp Leatherneck think of this?
“This boils my skin. One of my entire shifts will go 6.5 hours without a meal. If we need to cut back on money I could come up with 100 other places,” one Marine wrote to his wife, declining to speak on the record, according to NBC News. “Instead, we will target the biggest contributor to morale. I must be losing my mind. What is our senior leadership thinking? I just got back from flying my a** off and in a few days, I will not have a meal to replenish me after being away for over 9 hours.”
If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because the military has already had to take on criticism for “the Internet myth that Washington budget cuts have taken away breakfast for service members in Afghanistan.”
In an article published by the Department of Defense in January, the military confirmed that all four meals would still be available — just not all hot.
Snopes took on the rumor that Marines were losing breakfast as well, rating it as “party true.”
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore told NBC News in an email the base will also be removing its 24-hour sandwich bar.
The cutting of these meal features in favor of MREs is not due to budgetary issues, but because food service workers “need to go home before the people who provide the security which enables those services,” Gilmore wrote.
“The fact is our force in Afghanistan is shrinking fast and all the creature comforts and services deployed military-members have grown accustomed to over the past decade are going to be reduced,” Gilmore said. “When serving we are challenged to endure different things — to face different challenges — over time. But we’re an odd bunch, we Marines — probably no surprise that we’ll complain more about losing the sandwich bar on the way out than we did about getting shot at on the way in.”
Although as of June 1 there will three hot meals per day — when before there were four — Gilmore also included that eventually there will be only two.
In addition to some at the camp being upset over the change, others are taking to the cause as well. A Facebook page — Breakfast for Bagram — was established in February to begin collecting food for the Marines.
“We will be collecting non perishable breakfast type food for the troops in Afghanistan,” the page stated. As of February 1st 2013, 17 bases in Afghanistan will not be serving breakfast ‘hot chow’ as well as ‘Midnight chow’ they will be required to grab M.R.E.s at dinner time….well what happens if they are not there for dinner? They don’t have breakfast the next day and have to wait for lunch time…. a lot of the troops are out on mission so they have to eat M.R.E.’s if available. Some are going 24-48 hrs without eating due to the fact that missions and work schedules dont allow them to make it the “mess hall” on time to grab these M.R.E.’s.”
Gilmore was sure to tell NBC that the Marines in Afghanistan would not face an unhealthy calorie shortage with hot meals being replaced by MREs.
“The Marines here at Leatherneck may have to endure the monotony of a limited menu and sometimes an MRE — but they will not suffer from malnutrition unless they choose not to eat,” Gilmore said.
The DoD’s January article also emphasized that the most of the soldiers in Afghanistan are still receiving a hot breakfast.
But what they might not miss in calories, some think they’ll miss in camaraderie.
“Psychologically, midrats is probably the most important of all the meals because that’s the big social time — where first (shift) crew is coming off and second (shift) crew is coming on,” the founder and executive director of Military Spouse Magazine, Babette Maxwell, told NBC .”That’s where you get the esprit de corps, the camaraderie. It’s not just the food you’re taking away, it’s their social sustenance.”
Watch NBC’s report about the meal changes: