Marines may be steamed over meals being lost, effective today, as a result of the military drawdown in Afghanistan. An NBC report by Bob Briggs on Friday reported that Marines at Camp Leatherneck will now be losing hot meal service at midnight.
The key meal provided breakfast to Marines on the midnight to noon shift, and a late dinner to Marines who worked noon to midnight. Briggs said that the hot meal was more than just food, because it was one of the few times that Marines from both shifts could mingle — helping to improve morale.
The Marines will not be asked to do without food, of course. However, the hot meal will be replaced with packaged Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), which reportedly angers both Marines and their families who feel that the emergency rations aren’t a substitute for a genuine meal.
The problem is that 30,000 US service members will be leaving Afghanistan as the US prepares to hand over the responsibility for that nation’s security to its own government in 2014. Before the Marines can leave, the support service personnel such as food workers must go home first.
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore said that the midnight meal is only the first hot meal to go. As the service workers leave, eventually the Marines at Camp Leatherneck will receive only two hot meals a day. However, they will have plenty of the MREs in their place. Gilmore noted:
“This is a natural outcome of the drawdown process unrelated to sequestration or the ongoing budget issues back in the States.”
Although Briggs said that Marines have complained anonymously about the new drawdown diet, he couldn’t find any service members who complained on the record. Some Marines may like to vent, but it’s possible they’re not as steamed about the issue as his report suggested.
In an added twist, some sources suggested that people send food donations via a Facebook page called Breakfast for Bagram. As a result, social shares exploded, and the page went from 150 to 2200 Facebook likes overnight.
Breakfast for Bagram has now posted a statement explaining that it’s a small Las Vegas-based organization that can’t pick up or transport food donations outside of that area.
It also isn’t clear how the nonperishable food donations from the small organization would be much different from the MREs already in stock at Camp Leatherneck.
The site has traditionally shipped nonperishable food for Marines who arrived at camp at irregular hours when the chowhalls were closed. It isn’t a hot catering service.
UPDATE: We have received a very nice message from Rolanda Aery at Breakfast For Bagram which explained a little more about their program:
“A couple of us started through our local PTA with school food drives to help with the hit or miss meals…The items we are sending are in no way to take the place of a square meal but hopefully a small relief to some if they are unable to get to the MREs on time…Our boxes are filled with a variety of goodies including oatmeal, tuna, rice cakes, mac and cheese, granola bars, beef jerky, protein bars, soupe, applesauce and canned fruit & veg.”
She added that in winter weather, they also included hand warmers in the package. So don’t forget to check out their Breakfast for Bagram Facebook page to find out how you can help.
I admit that if I were a Marine, I’d be plenty steamed to lose a hot meal. But I’m not sure what the alternative is. Free free to post your ideas about how the Marines can cope with the drawdown diet.
[US Marine photo by Oleg Zabielin via Shutterstock]