The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center developed the Unitized Group Ration-Express modules to provide hot meals for groups of 18 soldiers right out of the box, without any preparation equipment, personnel, fuel or electricity to heat it up. Soldiers only have to pull a tab on the box to heat the meal, which will be ready in 30 to 45 minutes.
The meals also contain mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry jelly, snacks, desserts and drink mixes. The disposable heating tray also serves as a chafing dish to keep the food warm.
Small groups of troops are deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, operating as special forces units or training Iraqi and Afghan police and military. More than 3,000 U.S. military trainers are deployed in groups of 10 to 15 in Iraq alone.
"The heating technology for the UGR-E was adapted from the heater that is currently used in the individual Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) ration," said Lauren Oleksyk of the Equipment and Engineering Technology Team, according to an Army press release. "Like the MRE, the UGR-E is a shelf-stable product that does not require refrigerated storage, and can be quickly delivered, prepared, and disposed of in a military operating environment."