policy (U.S. Department of the Army, 1990) was approved for implementation in November 1990 and was successfully executed.
To support the revised feeding policy of three quality meals per day, the commander has available to him a family of rations that is built on individual and group rations. The primary individual ration is the MRE, and the group rations include unitized T Rations, unitized B Rations, and A Rations.
The RCW is a unique individual ration that is used in arctic environments and that includes six menus containing three entrees, several snacks, and numerous hot drinks (U.S. Department of the Army, 1989). Little preparation of the ration is required by the soldier. The RCW is lighter and smaller than three MREs and contains approximately 4,500 kcal per daily ration menu with a nutrient content designed to conserve body water. The packaging cannot be damaged by temperatures below freezing, and it is flat, flexible, and waterproof. Although the RCW was designed to be totally self-contained, there have been training exercises in which additional food items have been included (primarily prepared soup and coffee). MREs have also been used as a daily ration in arctic environments; they must be supplemented with additional ration items to be nutritionally adequate.
Soldiers with the Alaska Army National Guard ("scouts")2 who operate out of the most remote villages have experienced problems feeding their troops. Past generations of Alaskan scouts were hardened veterans of extreme cold weather, and they ate off the land. Their diet consisted of seal and polar bear. As these older scouts retired and were replaced by younger scouts, it was found that the replacements could not sustain themselves as had their predecessors, who had more of the skills needed to live off of the land. To update the scouts' diet to Army standards that would be supported with the state-of-the-art "family of rations," the Alaska Army National Guard's suggested immediate solution was to use the RCW. Two problems occurred with its use, however, which made replacement of the RCW necessary. First, the RCW was still a dramatic diet change for the younger troops. Most scouts had been exposed to MREs and preferred the MRE to the RCW. Second, the RCW required more water for consumption because all components are dehydrated or vacuum packed. Today, scouts in Alaska consume MREs with supplements, and additional bottled water is air dropped at predetermined locations.