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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: April 24, 2006
No: 06-18

Battlefield beverages

NATICK, Mass. -- Warfighters in Afghanistan and Iraq can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee --thanks to scientists at the DoD Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD), part of the Natick Soldier Center.

Researchers from the CFD developed a Hot Beverage Bag (HBB), which is a re-sealable high-density polyethylene bag. The HBB provides a safe, easy and convenient method for Warfighters to heat water for coffee, tea, cocoa and other hot beverages by utilizing surplus flameless ration heaters (FRHs)--which are sometimes left unused in Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs)--and recycled MRE chipboard cartons.

The HBB enables Warfighters, who may be engaged in intense or extremely mobile operations where organized food service is not possible, a means to make coffee. The HBB may also be used for preparing hot water for sanitation (i.e., shaving and personal hygiene).

According to Stephen Moody, team leader for the Individual Combat Ration Team, the HBB is basically a plastic zippered bag with markings for different water levels (6, 8, and 12 ounces). The bag also includes instructions for heating beverages.

According to Moody, a few things prompted the creation of the HBB. “It was noted during field evaluations that Soldiers often did not reconstitute their hot beverages--coffee, cocoa, or tea--because of the mess they would make in their canteen cup. This led to the idea for the inclusion of a bag that could also serve as a cup. Also, some Warfighters do not routinely carry a canteen cup,” said Moody.

Moody said that the bag, which is used in conjunction with the flameless ration heater, creates a demand for unused FRHs thus reducing the number of surplus heaters and related waste disposal concerns.

“An FRH is included in every MRE. Since they are not always used to heat the entrιe--there's not always time--there are often extra FRHs available,” said Moody.

Response to the Hot Beverage Bag, which has been included with the MRE (one per menu) since 2005, has been extremely favorable. The ability to make hot coffee adds greatly to the quality of life for Soldiers deployed to war zones, such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive. This is a very simple, dependable and inexpensive addition to the ration that is an enormous benefit to the Warfighter. Not only does it give the Soldier the opportunity to enjoy a hot beverage, it also helps to keep them hydrated by encouraging additional fluid intake,” said Moody.

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This page last updated on 24 April 2006.