kitchen at Forward Operating Base Blickenstaff serves
300 soldiers daily.
During their deployment to Iraq, the soldiers
of the Field Feeding Platoon (FFP) of Headquarters and Headquarters
Company (HHC), 296th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), 3d Brigade,
2d Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Washington, supported
troops in 12 different locations in northern Iraq. They operated
in environments that ranged from austere at Forward Operating
Base (FOB) Pacesetter in Samarra to urban in Mosul and Tal
Afar. This required them to adapt continually to an ever-changing
operating environment and enemy.
The FFP consists of a platoon leader, a platoon sergeant, and six field feeding
teams (FFTs), each of which has a habitual relationship with a battalion in the
brigade. The FFTs range in size from 9 to 19 soldiers, and each has an E–7
noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC). For the duration of the brigade’s
deployment, the FFTs were detached from the company and attached to the 296th
BSB to simplify movement planning and provide the battalions with greater flexibility.
feeding standard is that soldiers will be provided
meals daily. When units deploy under combat conditions
or in support of contingency plans, they will initially
consume the meal, ready-to-eat (MRE). As the theater
matures and METT–T allows, soldiers will also consume
a variety of group feeding rations. Among these rations
are the T- (heat-and-serve), B-, and A-Rations.
FM 10–1, Quartermaster Principles
Initially, the brigade occupied FOB Pacesetter near Samarra, which was an austere
base with no facilities. Every FFT was used to prepare meals. The BSB consolidated
two FFTs to operate one dining facility, and the other teams ran separate dining
facilities. Battalions often required separate feeding cycles or times because
of their mission requirements.
When the entire brigade was located on site, the BSB FFT had to feed an extremely
high headcount. The combined number of BSB soldiers, brigade troops, and transients
fed in the BSB regularly exceeded 1,000. To meet this demand, the BSB FFT had
to use KCLFF–Es (kitchens, company level, field feeding-enhanced) from
other FFTs to supplement its containerized kitchen (CK).
Dining facilities were established in an aircraft hangar and in fest tents. Tables
and chairs, which were contracted from Kuwait, did not arrive for several weeks
after the facilities had been established. Lighting in the large facilities was
insufficient, so a local contractor was used to provide more lights.
at Ar Rabi’ah line up to get “take-out” food.
FOB Food Service Operations
When the brigade replaced the 101st Airborne Division (Air
Assault) in Mosul, it spread out to 11 locations. Four sites
were located within the city, two
sites south of the city, and five sites near the city of Tal Afar, which was
approximately 100 kilometers northwest of Mosul. The FFP provided meals at
field sites and contractor-operated dining facilities. Contracted operations
were provided by Halliburton Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).
The 1–37 Field Artillery Battalion and the 296th BSB were located at
FOB Marez near the Mosul Airfield. The dining facility there was run by KBR.
FFTs assigned to those battalions, representing the commands on the base, provided
quality assurance and control.
The 1–23 Infantry Battalion operated out of FOB Blickenstaff and had one
of three operational CK sites. The 1–23’s FFT served 300 soldiers
and maintained a ration cycle of continental breakfasts, cold meat sandwich lunches,
and hot dinners. The meals were served in a nearby building that had been transformed
into a dining facility.
FOBs Regulars, Freedom, and Fulda had KBR-run dining facilities. FFTs for the
5–20 Infantry Battalion at FOB Regulars, the 2–3 Infantry Battalion
at FOB Freedom, and the 1–14 Cavalry Squadron at FOB Fulda worked in the
dining facilities as quality assurance and control personnel.
Rations were pushed daily from FOB Marez to FOB Patriot to support the remainder
of the 2–3 Infantry Battalion for their dinner meals. FOB Patriot used
the same ration cycle as the 1–23 Infantry Battalion to reduce the number
of daily ration convoys and minimize the FFTs’ exposure to enemy contact.
1–14 Cavalry Squadron FFT Operations
The 1–14 Cavalry Squadron’s FFT was the most spread out FFT, operating
five locations simultaneously. The remote locations operated by the 1–14
Cavalry Squadron in the Tal Afar area included the brigade retransmission (RETRANS)
site on top of Sinjar Mountain and Charlie Rock Base within the city. Initially,
rations were delivered every other day, but, as headcounts stabilized and ration
inventories increased, ration pushes were required only once every 7 days.
The Sinjar RETRANS dining facility consisted of one KCLFF–E, with 2 operators
feeding 12 personnel in a makeshift dining facility. The team balanced their
time between preparing meals and assisting with guard duty requirements. Although
FFT personnel typically do not pull guard duty, the small number of personnel
at Sinjar required every soldier at the site to help.
At Fort Stark, two personnel provided meals in a makeshift dining facility consisting
of one CK and the FFT’s “reefer” (refrigerated van). They fed
60 to 80 soldiers of a cavalry troop daily. The CK was used because no suitable
facility was available for setting up a KCLFF–E.
During operations at Ar Rabi’ah, which is located on the Syrian border,
two FFT operators fed a troop (-) element using one KCLFF–E. Initially,
soldiers ate in their sleeping areas; however, this area underwent considerable
renovation and eventually received its own dining facility.
Company C, 5–20 Infantry Battalion, operated a base within the city limits
of Tal Afar. Two FFT personnel fed the troops there using one KCLFF–E and
a civilian-contracted freezer unit.
The dining facility at Aggie College, located south of Mosul, included a CK,
a reefer, and a KCLFF–E and was operated by four FFT personnel who served
60 soldiers daily. The Aggie College facility was run by the 5–20 Infantry
Battalion’s FFT initially and later by a combination of personnel from
the 2–3 Infantry Battalion, the 1–37 Field Artillery Battalion, and
the 296th BSB. Similar to Ar Rabi’ah, this site underwent considerable
renovation and improvement throughout the duration of 3–2 Stryker Brigade
Combat Team’s time in Mosul.
The lessons learned during the 296th BSB’s deployment to Iraq include the
• Equipment (tables, chairs, and light sets) are required for each dining
facility. Before deploying, the FFP must plan to provide this equipment for each
supported battalion. Since the number of dining facilities is based on the number
of operational sites that the unit will operate, this figure may change. However,
it is important to have a basic plan.
of the 1–23 Infantry Battalion relax in their
• The BSB HHC should plan for up-armoring
of FFT equipment. This can be done either by acquiring the
materials and pushing them to the remote FFTs or by ensuring
that the supported battalions’ HHCs account for the FFT
equipment in their vehicle-hardening figures. The methods used
should be determined early in the operation to avoid confusion
and duplication of effort.
• The BSB HHC must be prepared to cross-level FFT personnel to provide
food service specialists than the supported unit is authorized when needed.
• Careful, detailed coordination with the BSB Support Operations (SPO)
is a must. The HHC commander will need the SPO’s assistance with enforcing
certain personnel and equipment redistributions within the supported battalions.
• The BSB HHC commander should have a close working relationship with each
supported battalion’s HHC in order to maintain awareness of the status
of equipment and personnel. The HHCs provide invaluable assistance in hardening
vehicles and providing convoys to the remote locations.
Supporting a large number of troop-feeding locations in Iraq appeared to be a
daunting task at first. It was only through the creativity of each FFT NCOIC
and careful planning by the FFP leader that the company was able to succeed in
its mission. ALOG
Captain Michael K.
Pavek is the Commander of Headquarters and Headquarters
3–2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Lewis, Washington.
He has a bachelor’s degree in international business
from St. John’s University in Minnesota.