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U.S., British Military Cooks Partner to Provide Great Food


The ability to function in an interoperable fashion is clearly an important goal of today’s NATO allies, and interoperability was a major focus during training between the Michigan Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment, and the tankers of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, a British Army Reserve tank regiment.

Cooks prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany.
Cooks with the Michigan Army National Guard’s Foxtrot Company, 237th Brigade Support Battalion, and chefs with the British Army Reserve’s Royal Wessex Yeomanry, prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany, Sept. 20, 2017. Michigan Army National Guard photo by Maj. Charles Calio
Cooks prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany.
Cooks at Work
Cooks with the Michigan Army National Guard’s Foxtrot Company, 237th Brigade Support Battalion, and chefs with the British Army Reserve’s Royal Wessex Yeomanry, prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany, Sept. 20, 2017. Michigan Army National Guard photo by Maj. Charles Calio
Photo By: Maj. Charles Calio
VIRIN: 170920-A-ON763-024

And, the American cooks and British chefs represented the epitome of interoperability during the training.

“I loved the food at Sennelager Training Area,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Ames, a print journalist with the Michigan Army National Guard’s 126th Public Affairs Operations Center, which sent two soldiers to document the American soldiers training in Germany. “I would go to the dining facility and I couldn’t tell the American cooks from the British chefs.”

‘I Just Knew I Was Eating Great Food’

Ames added, “They wore the same uniform, and if they had never spoken to you, it would be impossible to tell them apart. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. I just knew I was eating great food.”

From nearly the minute they arrived here, the cooks from Foxtrot Company, 237th Brigade Support Battalion, sent to support the Michigan guardsmen, joined their British counterparts in the dining facility, and hardly left their side.

Unlike the infantry and tank units, which met on a regular basis to conduct joint training but otherwise operated independently of each other, the cooks and chefs worked side-by-side for the entirety of the training. The cooks and chefs didn’t just train, they did the actual jobs they would be expected to do during any deployment except there were no dry runs, and the “crawl, walk, run” principle did not apply to their time here.

Cooks prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany.
Cooks with the Michigan Army National Guard’s Foxtrot Company, 237th Brigade Support Battalion, and chefs with the British Army Reserve’s Royal Wessex Yeomanry, prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany, Sept. 20, 2017. Michigan Army National Guard photo by Maj. Charles Calio
Cooks prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany.
Cooks
Cooks with the Michigan Army National Guard’s Foxtrot Company, 237th Brigade Support Battalion, and chefs with the British Army Reserve’s Royal Wessex Yeomanry, prepare food in one of the kitchens located at Sennelager Training Area, Germany, Sept. 20, 2017. Michigan Army National Guard photo by Maj. Charles Calio
Photo By: Maj. Charles Calio
VIRIN: 170920-A-ON763-107

That’s not to say challenges did not exist, as terminology was initially a hurdle to overcome. For example, according to U.S. Army Sgt. James Chenault, a cook with the 237th BSB, “What Americans may call ‘pot pie,’ the British Army refers to as ‘babies’ heads’ pudding, but the concept is the same except that the British steam the final product instead of baking it, and then they serve it upside down.”

“They’ve been absolutely fantastic,” British Army Sgt. Aaron Parsonage said of the Americans. After working through the initial hurdles, Parsonage, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry master chef for the joint training period, said the Michigan guardsmen “were absolutely all over it … It’s been a one, big team effort, they’ve made my job very, very easy.”

You want to see interoperability at its finest? Next time you are in a joint training area, visit the cooks and chefs, likely from different nations, working together to provide first-rate food to military personnel and civilians.