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Judging by the havoc MREs wreak on service members from beginning to end, you might guess that the military doesn’t give a shit about soldiers’ bowels. And you would be right. That means it falls on your humble Task & Purpose reporter to investigate the long-held myth that the gum in MREs will help you either release the floodgates or stop up the sewage, if you will, depending on what color it is.
“[The] red one is laxative, and white one is anti-diarrheal,” on Rally Point user post suggests. “So soldiers in the field can control and plan their bowel movements according to a [sic] mission needs.”
Task & Purpose decided to go directly to the source on this one: Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, which is charged with supplying food to the military.
“I can say without hesitation that it is only a myth,” wrote David Accetta, an Army veteran and chief of public affairs at Natick. “Any ideas about that being the purpose of the gum are completely incorrect.”
Task & Purpose photo
In reality, the gum serves a much more straightforward, if boring, purpose: keeping service members’ teeth clean.
According to Accetta, the gum “protects your teeth, which is especially important if you do not have the opportunity to brush your teeth after every meal.”
And that is often the case in the field.
He added that the 2004 Joint Services Operational Ration Forum chose to put xylitol gum in the MRE packages. It went into production in 2005 and is still given to service members to prevent stank breath today. Previously, the gum was just a sugar-based chewable. But chewing xylitol gum daily can result in a 30% to 85% reduction in tooth decay, which is important, because we all know that bad dental health means the terrorists win.
So… if the service admits to keeping military members’ choppers clean with their MRE gum, isn’t there really a chance that they might imbue it with some Roto-Rooter qualities, too?
No dice, Accetta said. “I was in the Army for 25 years before I started to work here, and am a Veteran of Desert Storm, OIF I, II-III, and OEF VIII,” he wrote.
“I can tell you with absolute certainty that the gum does not have those effects, was never designed to impact or affect your bowels, and does not control regularity.”
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.