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September-October 2005

Warrior front page Chef Paul spices up Army chow
New versions of Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) may include Chef Paul Prudhomme’s seasoning packets.

Smart Galley steams along
Navy kitchen processes become computer-controlled.

Hurricane Katrina relief
SSC’s tenant organizations pitch in.

Selective barrier
Ensemble seals out toxic agents, allows sweat to escape.

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A man for all seasonings

Chef Paul Prudhomme spices up Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs)

As part of the Combat Feeding Directorate’s (CFD) ongoing efforts to improve the quality of food for our nation’s servicemen and women, Chef Paul Prudhomme may bring his “good cooking, good eating, good living” philosophy to Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs).

Prudhomme, who goes by the name Chef Paul, is one of the nation’s best known chefs. He has appeared on several television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Late Night with David Letterman. His first cookbook, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Cooking, made The New York Times bestseller list. He also owns two restaurants, including the famous K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen located in New Orleans’ French quarter.

Chef Paul is the owner of, and the chef for, Magic Seasoning Blends. The company produces seasoning packets that enable home cooks to add Chef Paul’s beloved seasoning to their food. His barbecue and pizza spice packets have been tested and may be included in future versions of the MRE.

MREs were developed by CFD in the early 1980s. The CFD has since worked continuously to update the meals to provide optimum nutrition, improve taste, and to reflect the current preferences of servicemen and women. The meals meet the Office of the Surgeon’s General’s nutritional requirements and are packaged to withstand airdrop, rough handling, and temperature extremes. Items included in the MRE must be shelf stable for three years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to Judy Aylward, CFD senior food technologist, Chef Paul’s barbecue and pizza spice packets have been tested and meet the directorate’s stringent requirements and did well in the annual field test, which was held at Fort Bliss, Texas. All products that are field tested must score above 6 on a scale of 1 (extremely disliked) to 9 (extremely liked) in order to be recommended for inclusion in the MRE. MRE assemblers may opt to use Chef Paul’s product or a similar product that meets all the requirements.

Chief Paul with COL Johnson
SSC Deputy Commander, Col. Dorothy Johnson, speaks with Chef Paul Prudhomme during a meeting to discuss new MRE offerings. Chef Paul’s spice blend packets may be included in future versions of the MRE.

Aylward briefed the field test results to the Joint Services Operation Ration Forum. The forum approved the packets for inclusion in MRE 27, which will be packed in 2007.

Chef Paul visited the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., on Oct. 13. His visit was part of an MRE demonstration of new foods (called the “Cutting”) held at the Natick Conference Center. Hosted by Aylward, the “Cutting” was attended by food experts and scientists from industry, government, and the military.

During the meeting attendees tasted and evaluated the new MRE items, including meatballs with marinara sauce, chicken with dumplings, cornbread stuffing, fried rice, marble pound cake, Skittles (Wild Berry and Tropical flavors), Reese’s Pieces, apple butter, chunky peanut butter, green hot pepper sauces, and Chef Paul’s pizza and barbecue seasoning packets. The attendees also reviewed procurement documents to ensure scale-up production without problems.

Chef Paul tasted the new Chicken Dumpling MRE and said he was impressed with the appearance and moisture in the chicken, which he deemed very tender.

“The changes in MREs in the past 20 years are amazing. I am excited about the possibility of helping to make them even a little bit better in the future,” he stated.

Chef Paul also provided a cooking demonstration, during which he prepared pasta with cream and Tasso (smoked, spicy ham).

He said that he believes that good food can change a person’s mood, and that herbs and spices are key to making a meal better.

Servicemen and women aiding the Hurricane Katrina relief effort have already gotten a taste of Chef Paul’s great cooking. He has been helping out by feeding members of the Armed Services and other relief workers. During the chef’s visit to Natick, Shawn McBride, president and CEO of Magic Seasoning Blends, estimated that so far they have served about 20,000 meals.

Chef Paul stated, “If you cook good, people eat good. You are really sharing human love.”

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Smart Galley steams along

Computerized system to control kitchen processes enters second phase

The second phase of the Smart Galley project, creating a mock galley in the Combat Feeding Navy Lab at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., has been completed.

Benefits of the automated system were shown during a project review and demonstration in August for members of the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD), the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and Cmdr. Mike Hanson, Naval Supply Systems Command Food Service Director.

The concept of the Smart Galley is to help reduce shipboard labor and to improve quality of life on Navy ships.

“This idea is to combine known technology and new technology to explore an automated approach to galleys,” said Dave Walker of Foster-Miller, who worked with CFD through a Small Business Innovation Research effort to create the mock galley.

As the Navy looks to transform and streamline its operation, ships often have smaller crews. In a sample case presented, about 9 percent of the crew was dedicated to food service.

Many of the tasks performed are very labor-intensive, such as maintenance and repair of appliances, food preparation, and cooking. Smart Galley would reduce the time spent on these tasks and free up the crew for other essential tasks.

The Smart Galley uses off-the-shelf software on a main computer. This main computer would have a layout of the galley on the screen, which would identify the various appliances it’s connected to. Through touchscreens, a Sailor or engineer would be able to control appliances, check maintenance schedules, plan meals, check on problems and more.

The maintenance area is expected to see a significant return on investment with the Smart Galley. Through detailed diagnostics, the Smart Galley will be able to identify not only which appliance is having a problem, but what the problem is. It has an alert system that will notify the operator whether the problem is

something as simple as the dishwasher has no soap or if the problem is a more serious system failure. If there is a component failure, a message can be sent not only to the operator, but to the engineering group to let them know about the problem, and this could be tied into a parts list to help with inventory.

ombi-oven’s supervisory control modules
Combat Feeding Directorate Project Officer Ken Ryan uses the Combi-oven’s supervisory control modules.

According to Ken Ryan, project officer, CFD, this could eliminate the need for a maintenance person going into the galley to check on appliances. In addition, regular maintenance schedules can be programmed into Smart Galley and there will be pop-up screens as reminders that maintenance needs to be or hasn’t been done.

At one point, the demonstration turned into reality. An example had been set for the dishwasher to run remotely. However, due to construction in the building, the diagnostics capability of the mock galley noted that the dishwasher was not at the correct water inlet temperature. The diagnostics capability would not allow the appliance to run until it had reached the correct temperature. Correct temperature is essential for sanitation.

The Smart Galley also can be programmed to evaluate performance of appliances in order to identify degraded performance and predict failure before it happens (a process known as prognostics).

The idea is to have normal operating standards for each appliance and then monitor the actual operations vs. the expected operations.

Rob DiLalla, a mechanical engineer, said the Smart Galley gives operators the chance to measure the performance of their equipment.

“You can’t control what you don’t measure,” he said.

Meal planning is another area that could benefit from the Smart Galley.

Sailors will be able to use an automated worksheet, which could pull information such as cooking instructions right from recipes in a database, and once the meal was planned, schedule the appliances with an automated start time. The Smart Galley will automatically check for conflicts and notify the operator if any are found. The operator is always able to change any set point.

The worksheet would be able to calculate portions, and if there was some way to monitor galley choices with an automated user system, such as a smart swipe card, eventually leftovers would be reduced.

The mock galley in CFD is set up with 12 appliances, including combi-oven, convection oven, skittle, griddle, dishwasher and freezer. All the appliances in the mock galley are set up as if they are a true “Smart Galley” and can be monitored off of the main system. Two items, the combi-oven and a convection oven, are set up with supervisory control modules. This gives them dual functions; the operator can set production requirements on the appliances, as well as allowing the system to be controlled remotely.

“The items with supervisory controls can always be controlled manually if necessary and the operators are able to edit any of the pre-set information,” Ryan said.

If the appliance is changed locally, the information is fed back into the main computer and the Smart Galley will adjust based on the new information. During the demonstration, the combi-oven was set for a meal—with start time and temperature—and was remotely started. When it was at the correct pre-heated temperature, an audible alarm sounded indicating it was ready and looking for the oven to be loaded. The rest of the cycle won’t begin until the computer knows that the door has been opened (to load food). At the end of a cycle, it can be programmed to repeat the cycle, hold a cycle, or shut the oven off.

The system can monitor oven temperature to ensure it is correct for food safety. If there’s a problem, not only will it give a visual warning on the screen, but it will sound an audible alarm. For monitoring of food temperature, one idea being looked at is to have a networked hand-held temperature probe hooked up to a personal digital assistant, which can read the information and send it back to the system.

Smart Galley will be compatible with appliances currently on ships. No special wiring would be needed to upgrade the pre-existing systems. Installation on some classes of ships would be a simple retrofit, have a minimal impact, and would turn existing appliances into “smart” appliances. A simple Ethernet would form the network.

Hanson said he sees “a lot of goodness” with the project, and thinks it would be “great” with regard to maintenance monitoring.

Software system
Equipment Specialist Lou Jamieson uses the software system to monitor the food service equipment.

In the future he would like to see where they might be able to tie this project into other new technologies, such as RFID, and other smart ideas that the Navy or the Department of Defense (DOD) may be working.

Gerald Darsch, director of CFD, said that as the Navy transforms for the future, it will want to take the best of all initiatives that are being worked on throughout DOD.

He said that aspects of the Smart Galley program could be combined with other ideas, such as passive tagging for inventory management or other supply chain management ideas, to increase total asset visibility. As the CFD conducts a Joint Service Program, interest in this automated system by the other services will be closely watched to ensure joint service interoperability.

According to Ryan, the next steps to be worked on include continued testing in the maintenance area, development of retrofit kits for existing appliances, full system testing at mock galley to show the project is ready for ship use and establishing the cost of a ship demonstration.

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Hurricane relief

SSC and its tenants pitch in to help Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, several tenant organizations located at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) in Natick, Mass., are pitching in to help with hurricane relief. These efforts are being tracked continuously by the Natick Operations Center.


The Combat Feeding Directorate provided 55 cases of surplus Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to the relief effort.

The Combat Feeding Directorate, part of the Natick Soldier Center (NSC), provided 55 cases of surplus Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to the relief effort. The MREs provide hot, nutritious and good-tasting meals to meet the needs of rescue workers operating in an environment where meal preparation is not feasible.

The MRE cases contained 12 meals each and were given to the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council Special Tactics and Response Team, an Eastern Massachusetts police organization which traveled to New Orleans to share personnel and resources and to perform rescue and recovery operations. The response team is made up of more than 40 police departments, including the town of Natick.

“To be asked to help and have been given the authority by U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) to do so in a very responsive fashion, was extremely gratifying,” said Gerald Darsch, Director of Combat Feeding.

MREs were developed by the Combat Feeding Directorate in the early 1980s. The Combat Feeding Directorate has since worked continuously to update the meals to provide optimum nutrition, improve taste, and to reflect the preferences of servicemen and women.

The meals meet the Office of the Surgeon’s General’s nutritional requirements and are packaged to withstand airdrop, rough handling, and temperature extremes.

Wide Span Airbeam Shelter
A prototype Wide Span Airbeam Shelter, developed by NSC, has been deployed to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relief efforts. NSC has loaned the shelter, which will be used to store equipment and supplies.

The meals provided by the Combat Feeding Directorate were purchased by the Combat Feeding Directorate from the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, part of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The Combat Feeding Directorate purchases MREs every year to use as a control when testing new MRE menus.

In a completely separate effort, millions of the Natick-developed MREs have also been distributed by DLA directly.


Airbeam technology to the rescue

A prototype Wide Span Airbeam Shelter, developed by the Natick Soldier Center, has been deployed to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) relief efforts. The shelter has been set up at DHS’s Forward Deployed Operations Command Center of the Customs and Border Protection in Hammond, La. The shelter, which is being loaned to DHS by NSC, will be used to store relief equipment and supplies.

The shelter’s inflatable arch or airbeam technology provides the Army and Air Force with a faster, simpler alternative to metal frames. The rapidly deployable shelter dramatically reduces set-up and take-down time. In Hammond, a contractor-directed, untrained DHS team had the shelter standing in less than 24 labor hours.

Early Entry Logistic Support Element (LSE) Systems (EELS)
In support of Joint Task Force Katrina, NSC has updated and deployed two Early Entry Logistic Support Element (LSE) Systems (EELS).

“The Hurricane Katrina relief effort was the perfect application for our airbeam shelter technology where quick deployment time was critical. They couldn’t wait a week to get a large commercial shelter standing. We were pleased to be able to participate by providing our first science and technology prototype Wide Span Airbeam Shelter for storage of relief supplies. As DHS initially wanted to purchase shelters, we hope to develop a partnership to mature the technology and provide DHS shelters for future deployment,” said Jean Hampel, a senior mechanical engineer at NSC.

Softwall Shelters

In support of Joint Task Force Katrina, NSC has updated and deployed two Early Entry Logistic Support Element (LSE) Systems (EELS) in support of AMC’s LSE operations in Louisiana. The EELS is a softwall shelter system that provides a working/living space for 15 to 20 people. The two EELS deployed to Louisiana each contain a Modular Command Post Tent System, power distribution system, lights, tables, chairs, as well as environmental control units (ECU) and solar shades. The EELS were set up at the New Orleans International Airport and Fort Polk, La.

“It was extremely fulfilling to get the opportunity to send support.  At the same time it has been disappointing not to be able to send more. Whether it is for a Soldier or a family, you cannot help but feel gratified when your program can help to improve the living or working environment for someone else,” said EELS Program Manager Karen Buehler.

Containerized Life Support Systems and Force Provider components
Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS) has provided ongoing support to Joint Task Force Katrina, including Containerized Life Support Systems and Force Provider components.

Containerized Life Support Systems and Force Provider

Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS) has provided ongoing support to Joint Task Force Katrina efforts by deploying both equipment and a hands-on technical assistance team to Louisiana.

PM FSS has provided Containerized Life Support Systems, including shower, latrine, field feeding and laundry capabilities in support of 7000 Soldiers, who are assisting in the relief effort.

Thus far, PM FSS has been responsible for deploying 46 Containerized Latrine Systems, 26 Containerized Shower Systems, and 8 Containerized Batch Laundry Systems.

PM FSS also provided one Force Provider All-Electric Kitchen, one Force Provider Potable Water Kit and one Force Provider Waste Water Kit.

Force Provider is a containerized, highly deployable base camp that is capable of supporting troops in any environment. Force Provider includes quality-of-life items, including advanced laundry, shower, latrine, kitchen and billeting systems, as well as religious and morale, welfare and recreation facilities. The entire Force Provider base camp is temperature-controlled.

Force Provider containerized components
Force Provider containerized components, including showers, laundries, and latrines, were deployed to assist the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

PM FSS also deployed a four-man Technical Assistance Team to assist in coordination and set-up of the deployed equipment. 

(Editor’s note-- An update on ongoing PM FSS relief efforts will be provided in the next issue of The Warrior.)

Force Provider Logistics Support

The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Integrated Logistics Support Center (ILSC), located at SSC, provided a four-man team to assist the PM FSS in support of Hurricane Katrina.  The team assisted in validating paperwork, accountability and inventory on all Force Provider equipment on the ground, according to Maj. Joseph Lusk, team leader for the Sustainment Technical Assistance Team.

The ILSC team assisted PM FSS with the setup and taking down of Force Provider equipment in support of the 82nd Airborne Division, which has been deployed to Louisiana. The team also coordinated with PM FSS on logistical requirements for more than 681 containers and 150 truckloads of Force Provider equipment. 

Working together with PM-FSS, team members ensured trucks, paperwork, and equipment were inventoried and packed and shipped to proper destinations.

Mobile Kitchen Trailers (MKTs)
The Soldier Support Systems Team, part of the ILSC, expedited the delivery of 32 Mobile Kitchen Trailers (MKTs). The MKTs are being used to provide hot meals to Soldiers participating in relief efforts.

“It is a great feeling knowing that you are making a difference in somebody’s life and making them feel a bit better with a warm shower and a warm meal,” said Lusk.


The ILSC also provided three generators to a nursing home and another one to a sewer plant.

Mobile Kitchen Trailers

ILSC’s Soldier Support Systems Team expedited the delivery of 32 Mobile Kitchen Trailers (MKTs).

The MKTs were delivered from the RESET line at Letterkenny Army Depot to units in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

The equipment was deployed to Louisiana to provide hot meals for Soldiers participating in relief efforts. MKTs are capable of feeding 250 people and are rugged enough to be used on various types of terrain and in austere conditions.

Aerial Delivery Support

10K Cargo Nets
10K Cargo Nets are being used in support of hurricane relief.

The ILSC Aerial Delivery Equipment Group provided the relief effort with 565 25K cargo sling assemblies and ten 10K helicopter cargo nets.

Mattox Turman, team leader for Cargo Parachutes in the Aerial Delivery Equipment Group, noted in an article in the October issue of Aerial Delivery Magazine, the cargo sling assembly provides the capability to move cargo loads from point to point using rotary wing aircraft.

The slings transported hundreds of sandbags to close a 200-foot gap in the 17th Street Canal Levee.

Gloria Wooten-Standard, the Aerial Delivery Equipment Group senior team leader, stated that, “The Aerial Delivery Equipment Group is elated to be a part of such an enormous effort, and we stand ready to continue to support this catastrophic event in any way possible.”

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Selective barrier

Ensemble seals out toxic agents, allows sweat to escape

Thin is in with the latest technology to protect Special Operations Forces from chemical and biological warfare agents.

Selectively-permeable membranes, which look like plastic wrap, block the harmful stuff while allowing sweat to escape without most of the disadvantages of carbon traditionally used for chemical-biological protective garments.

Wearing a chemical-biological suit is never pleasant, but those who have tried the new All Purpose-Personal Protective Ensemble with selectively permeable membranes like it better than the alternatives, said Karen Burke, project officer for the ensemble at the Natick Soldier Center’s Special Operations Forces Special Projects Team.

The new ensemble was approved for production in April and deliveries are scheduled to begin in December.

“It’s exciting to see it getting used by the folks who need it,” Burke said. “What’s neat is that this is only the beginning. The ‘one-suit-fits-all’ philosophy doesn’t work anymore. You can tailor it to fit specific requirements of different missions.”

The drab green ensemble consists of an attached or separate hood, one-piece overgarment with reinforced knees, elbows and seat, and socks. Gloves are a carryover from the existing Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) that’s the current protective suit for the military.

All Purpose-Personal Protective Ensemble
The All Purpose-Personal Protective Ensemble uses selectively-permeable membrane technology to keep out chem-bio agents while allowing perspiration to escape.

Eight sizes from small to double-extra large are available with leg gussets, Velcro and zippers to further adjust fit because one drawback with chemical-biological protective material is that it does not stretch, Burke said.

The ensemble material passed live-agent testing, and prototype suits were tested with simulated agents before getting approval. Testing showed increased protection, but one quality still unknown is wear time.

“If we can figure out what features lengthen or shorten its life, then we can reduce its cost,” Burke said.

She said the Department of Homeland Security is interested in adopting a version of the suit, and services now using JSLIST may eventually see a selectively-permeable membrane ensemble in their inventories as cost decreases, and its performance and long-term durability is proven.

“The design is driven by barrier technology,” Burke said. “What really makes it work are the closures. To get the full benefit, you have to get high-integrity closures.”

JSLIST protects by adsorbing and neutralizing toxic agents with a material containing carbon spheres. The new ensemble is the first garment that seals out contaminants with a membrane protected on each side that has a nylon material laminated onto it, according to Burke.

It doesn’t wear out with exposure to the atmosphere like carbon-based materials, and Burke said the membrane ensembles indicated in accelerated aging tests that they have a longer shelf-life in storage.

Selectively-permeable membranes in testing proved to be liquid-proof and protect better after contact with a toxic agent, and because they don’t adsorb various everyday contaminants, the new ensemble suffers less degradation.

The new materials also were more resistant to aerosol, liquid and solid agents for improved protection, according to Burke, and because the new technology is usually thinner and lighter than a comparable adsorptive material, the garment is lighter, leaner and less of a burden to wear.

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This page last updated on 6 December 2005.