mental impairments, such as confusion, depression, and loss of vigilance. The military has devoted great efforts to improve the quality of the food rations with the objectives of providing a palatable ration, encouraging consumption, and ensuring proper nutrition for soldiers. First Strike Rations (FSRs) are being developed in collaborative effort by the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD), Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), Natick Soldier Center (NSC) and the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) and were conceived as a new strategy to optimize the nutritive value of rations created for foot combat soldiers. FSRs are being developed as lightweight rations that contain all essential nutrients and food components with the idea of sustaining physical performance, postponing fatigue, and minimizing other adverse health consequences experienced while in SUSOPS. With the number of SUSOPS increasing, the optimization of these assault rations has become a high priority. The Department of Defense asked the IOM to appoint a committee to guide the design of the nutritional composition of the ration for SUSOPS. Although the focus of this report is soldiers, the recommendations may be applicable to physically fit nonmilitary personnel under similar conditions of high-stress, intense physical activity, especially those experiencing negative energy balance for the repeated, short periods of time outlined here. This may include firefighters, peacekeepers, and other civilian emergency personnel.


Under the auspices of the Standing Committee on Military Nutrition Research, the Committee on Optimization of Nutrient Composition of Military Rations for Short-Term, High-Intensity Situations was appointed to recommend the nutritional composition of a new ration designed for short-term use by soldiers during high-tempo, stressful combat missions. The ration is meant to be used for repetitive, three- to seven-day missions that include recovery periods of about 24–72 hours between missions. The nutritional composition of this new ration should be optimized to best sustain physical and cognitive performance and should prevent possible adverse health consequences, focusing on dehydration, the gastrointestinal gut processes, and the function of immune system as health issues of highest concern. Specifically, the committee was asked to respond to questions about the energy content, about levels and types of specific macronutrients and micronutrients, and about amounts of other bioactive substances that may enhance performance during combat missions.

To address this task, the committee convened a workshop hosted by the USARIEM and the NSC in Natick, Massachusetts, August 11–13, 2004, at which speakers addressed the issues brought to the committee by the USARIEM. These presentations were the basis for the committee’s deliberations and recommendations and are included in this report as individually authored papers.

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