The Pentagon has engineered a brand new MRE substitute to punish your insides

Kiss your beloved pizza MRE goodbye, service members: the Defense Department is working on a brand new lightweight combat ration...

Kiss your beloved pizza Meal, Ready to Eat goodbye, service members: the Defense Department is working on a brand new lightweight combat ration designed to keep troops fueled up while inevitably ruining your bowels.

Dubbed the “close combat assault ration” by researchers at the Army’s Combat Feeding Directorate in Natick, Massachusett, the new rations are designed to reduce a soldier’s combat load by swapping out hefty MREs in favor of “nutrient-dense energy bars.”

Now, the Army already offers meal supplements like the First Strike energy bar in some MREs, but according to Military.com, the new close combat rations could eventually replace MREs entirely.

“This is a ration that’s designed to be extremely lightweight and compact,” Lauren Oleksyk, the CFD’s team leader for Food Engineering, told Military.com. “The bars that we’re looking at for that ration are not necessarily full meal-replacement bars, but [we’re] using a technology for drying and compression that would enable us to make a full meal-replacement bar if needed.”

Related: Finally, a fancy (and compact) MRE for the grunt who prefers only the finest vacuum-sealed rations

Where the U.S. military’s pursuit of lighter loads for close combat troops covers everything from weapons to body armor, Military.com reports that Natick scientists have managed to reduce the weight of meals from anywhere from 40 to 70 percent.

To accomplish this, military researchers applied an aggressive “moisture-reduction technology” to reduce the weight of individual rations, dehydrating food as it’s never been before.

“You can dial in how much [moisture] you want to remove for palatability purposes,” Oleksyk told Military.com. “We know that warfighters don’t necessarily want to consume all dry bars, so we want to be able to offer a variety of moistures in these products so that it’s something they want to consume.” 

The Pentagon has engineered a brand new MRE substitute to punish your insides

This is great for soldiers in terms of lighter loads on a ruck march, but this is also terrible for soldiers in terms of lighter loads at the latrine; after all, dehydration is a leading cause of constipation — which, as we all know, is a scientifically proven consequence of consuming conventional MREs.

It follows, then, that these aggressively-dehydrated combat rations might result in even more blockage for combat troops, which is not always ideal. Then again, less frequent bowel movements might be a preferable option for troops in future combat situations.

“Soldiers in small units might be in environments where they have to go longer without resupply,” Oleksyk told Military.com. “So right now, we’re very focused on reducing the logistics burden by reducing the weight and size of ration so that soldiers in small units can carry more.”

There you have it: carry less, shit less, fight more. That’s the Pentagon way!

Related: Army study proves what service members have known for decades: MREs make it hard to sh*t 

Jared Keller

Jared Keller View Jared Keller's articles

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Jared Keller is the deputy editor of Task & Purpose. His writing has appeared in Aeon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post, among other publications. Contact the author here.