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11-30-08, 02:13 AM #1
You've heard of the freshman 15. How about the Iraq 20? Iraq Has Its Own Battle of the Bulge
AMP SPEICHER, Iraq -- Al Qaeda and other extremist groups aren't the only enemy facing U.S. troops stationed at this massive base in central Iraq. The Americans also are engaged in the mother of all battles -- against gaining weight. You've heard of the freshman 15. How about the Iraq 20?
Forget the K-rations of World War II and the chewy, tasteless MREs -- "Meals, Ready-to-Eat" -- that sustained U.S. Soldiers in more recent conflicts. With most of America's 150,000 troops in Iraq living on large bases, the combat ration has given way to a smorgasbord of food that has some Soldiers bingeing and others in fits.
"You have to have an iron discipline," said Sgt. Robert Carmical, a trombone player in the 25th Infantry Division Band, who arrived at Contingency Operating Base Speicher only days ago. "A lot of people turn to food for comfort, and the opportunity is there."
Barbecue ribs, fried chicken, rib-eye steak, lobster tails, crab legs, roast turkey, stir-fry, cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, egg rolls, breaded shrimp, buffalo wings, chili, crepes, pancakes, omelets, waffles, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, quiches, bacon, polish sausages, pulled pork, corned beef hash, milk shakes and smoothies -- and that's just for starters.
You name it, and American Soldiers are eating and drinking it, except alcohol.
Decorated with colorful college and professional sports banners and TVs tuned to sports and news, each dining hall has a pasta bar, a salad bar and a sandwich and wrap bar. There are short-order cooks and food cooked in bulk and served at long counters by workers in black and white uniforms, hats and bow ties.
Behind one counter, a worker carefully slices several loaves of bread, while another worker carves ham for the troops at breakfast.
What's for dessert? Healthy eaters can choose apples, pears and other fruit, alongside relatively low-fat Jell-O. Soldiers with less discipline are in a world of hurt, or pleasure, depending on how you look at it.
At one dinner last week at Speicher, the dessert menu included -- now take a deep breath -- carrot cake, triple chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake, black forest chocolate cake, devil chocolate cake, banana nut cake, apple pie, cherry pie, chocolate and vanilla pudding, three types of cookies, three types of ice cream bars, cones and popsicles, and five flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream with all the fixings, including caramel and chocolate syrup, crushed nuts, whipped cream, and blueberry and strawberry toppings.
"My favorite is the pecan pie," said Staff Sgt. Jason Rodriguez, who was still on his first course, a heaping plate of spaghetti with marinara sauce.
What happens if a Soldier gets hungry between meals? No problem. The PX, or base store, has an aisle or two packed with snacks such as corn chips, potato chips, pretzels, beef jerky, cookies and bean and onion dip.
Next to Speicher's PX are, guess what, a kind of mini version of Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway and Taco Bell.
This is not to say the troops don't deserve a treat or two when they are on base, or as it's known here, "inside the wire." Many rise at dawn and spend hours armed to the teeth, patrolling in cramped armored vehicles, hunting for insurgents, looking for deadly roadside bombs or tracking down the next suicide bomber.
But the U.S. military also is fighting back in the latest Battle of the Bulge. At the buffet line, some offerings have a label that lists calories, fat, carbohydrates and other nutritional information. A sign stuck to the lid of a small freezer piled high with the ice cream bars warns Soldiers that two is the limit.
Every Soldier has a physical training program to stay fit and undergoes two weigh-ins a year. Those who get too fat are put on a strict diet and could potentially be booted out of the army.
On a recent day at Speicher, a handful of Soldiers jogged and power-walked around an asphalt track left over from when the base was an Iraqi military installation under Saddam Hussein. Nearby, at the base's first-class gym, Soldiers dripping with sweat were pumping iron, running on treadmills, playing basketball and working out on elliptical machines.
A fit-looking Rodriguez said he limits his dessert to pecan pie and works out 90 minutes a day.
Carmical, the trombone player, also is determined to keep the weight off. "Yesterday I ran 4 miles and today I did sprints, and we have weight-training in the afternoon," said Carmical, who also stays fit doing Hapkido, a Korean martial art. "You have to be real careful."
11-30-08, 03:22 AM #2
11-30-08, 03:38 AM #3
Here I thought this would be a story about the 20 Marines who performed heroically just a scant few weeks ago against insurmountable odds.
Anyhow, this is sort of old news - soldiers have always been deconditioned during combat operations.I'm your huckleberry...
Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!
You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.
I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
but every girl I found was either one way or the other...
11-30-08, 04:47 AM #4
I think it is absolutely wonderful that we are 'worrying' about troops getting fat during a war.
You look at the soldiers during some past wars, and realize a couple things:
1) They weren't well fed.
2) You cut off an enemy's supply lines, and they are toast. A little extra meat on their bones can only serve to help them if they are in a predicament and can't get food for a few days.
The fact that this is even a concern is a testament to the efficiency of our armed forces.--
"And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon..."
11-30-08, 08:15 PM #5
Nice to know that my co-workers and buddies at the PXes in Iraq and "Stan are keeping the Troops fed.
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
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