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Troops Enjoy Hot Beverage Bag with Less Mess

Scientists developed a re-sealable high-density polyethylene bag
used by troops in the field for heating water for hot beverages.

Natick Soldier Center News Release

NATICK, Mass., April 24, 2006 – Warfighters in Afghanistan and Iraq can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee thanks to scientists at the DoD Combat Feeding Directorate at the Natick Soldier Center.

Researchers from the directorate developed a hot beverage bag, a re-sealable high-density polyethylene bag.

The bag provides a safe, easy and convenient method for warfighters to heat water for coffee, tea, cocoa and other hot beverages by utilizing surplus flameless ration heaters which are sometimes left unused in Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) and recycled MRE chipboard cartons.

"This is a very simple, dependable and inexpensive addition to the ration that is an enormous benefit to the warfighter."

Stephen Moody, team leader

The hot beverage bag enables warfighters, who may be engaged in intense or extremely mobile operations where organized food service is not possible, a means to make coffee. The bag may also be used for preparing hot water for sanitation (i.e., shaving and personal hygiene).

According to Stephen Moody, team leader for the Individual Combat Ration Team, the hot beverage bag is basically a plastic zippered bag with markings for the different water levels of 6, 8, and 12 ounces. The bag also includes instructions for heating beverages.

According to Moody, a few things prompted the creation of the hot beverage bag.

"It was noted during field evaluations that soldiers often did not reconstitute their hot beverages coffee, cocoa, or tea because of the mess they would make in their canteen cup," he said. "This led to the idea for the inclusion of a bag that could also serve as a cup. Also, some warfighters do not routinely carry a canteen cup."

Moody said that the bag, which is used in conjunction with the flameless ration heater, creates a demand for unused heaters thus reducing the number of surplus heaters and related waste disposal concerns.

"A flameless ration heater is included in every MRE. Since they are not always used to heat the entrée – there's not always time – there are often extra heaters available," he explained.

Response to the hot beverage bag, which has been included with the MRE (one per menu) since 2005, has been extremely favorable.

The ability to make hot coffee adds greatly to the quality of life for soldiers deployed to war zones, such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

 "The feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive," said Moody. "This is a very simple, dependable and inexpensive addition to the ration that is an enormous benefit to the warfighter.

"Not only does it give the soldier the opportunity to enjoy a hot beverage, it also helps to keep them hydrated by encouraging additional fluid intake," he noted.
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