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A Spanish Pack complee with squid and peaches

I am sure that those of you who are former members of the armed forces will look back on operational military rations with mixed emotions.

Most popular were the 24 hour packs which were required to provide one man with enough food to last for up to one day, and the ten man pack, a much larger assortment, which was the main pack used for operational purposes, said to provide a daily intake of in excess of 4000 calories for each of its recipients.

Compo was the name by which the provisions were popularly known or Ration Composite General Service if you want to be more formal.

I remember the steak and kidney pudding and the oatmeal blocks with particular affection, and those quirky little tin openers, and who could forget, of course, the shiny sheets of toilet paper, although I have yet to meet a man, or a woman, who every used them.

I personally found the rations very good and always managed to put on some weight when I went away on exercise or manoeuvre with my unit.

Quite whether that would be the case with the Spanish Military Ration Pack I don’t know. Squid, which seems to be a regular ingredient, has never been one of my favourite meals. But the packs are quite comprehensive and the military I have spoken to recently feel that they certainly serve the purpose.

Unlike the British packs, which are now put together by scientists at the Defence Fuel and Food Services Team down in deepest Bristol, the Spanish Ration Packs are the responsibility of the Corps of Engineers, so the extra constituents, such as the mandatory water purifying tablets, 3 solid fuel tablets, matches and a small stove for cooking, would come as no surprise, but I can’t say that I was particularly excited by the menu.

Designed to provide each of it’s recipient with enough fuel to withstand enemy fire on a full stomach, the dexterity and geometric skills necessary to open some of it’s sachets and cans would be more akin to those you might expect to acquire in order to complete a Tetris challenge. Presumably each also comes with an added extra, a stick of dynamite or a very big mallet.

But even once you get in there the selection leaves rather a lot to be desired.

With an expiry date deep into 2018, as well as the extras already mentioned, my pack contained a can of pate with black pepper, a can of green beans, one sachet of vegetable soup, a can of squid, peaches in syrup and two sachets containing powder to make an isotonic drink.

Not that appetising really, although I have eaten worse in some restaurants and paid a darned sight more than the 4 euro that each pack is purported to cost.

But the strange thing is that they are extremely well received! And when it comes to exchanging packs in joint exercises with foreign military (we have all been there at one time or another) the Spanish ration packs are in some (although I wouldn’t say great) demand.

Personally give me the good old compo 10 man pack, although I suppose in a desert battlefield scenario the peaches in the Spanish pack would always do a job as camouflage!

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/47617/

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