Italians do eat better

(To Andrea Cucco)

"An army marches and fights with the stomach," General Napoleon Bonaparte wisely stated. When in fact his Grande Armée he remained empty-handed in Russia was the defeat ...

If one thinks as a layman of war operations, one can underestimate the importance of supplies. A station can remain with the same shot in the barrel for months, however a soldier must be refreshed daily.

Here - to make a parenthesis - it is to think about how hard to hit effectively irregular troops, militiamen or ISIS terrorists when to be "filtered" on the frontiers of the war zone are food loads that only partially (if it fits!) Will end to the population.

But let's get back to the good guys. At the end of 2014, a singular competition was held in Kabul, which widely saw Italian rations outperforming those of the other contingents present in Afghanistan. Let's face it, who like myself has experienced the ration K twenty-five years ago he would hardly have expected such a narrow victory.

So to understand how the feeding of our soldiers has been refined over time we have posed some questions to the armed force with more experience in the field. The Logistic Logic of the Army it is readily available to clarify doubts and even provide some advice ...

What is the so-called "K-Ration"?

The Italian combat ration has been designed to meet the fighter's daily nutritional needs. It ensures a correct, balanced and varied diet even in particular conditions of use, and is used when training / operational activities, emergencies and even missions abroad are carried out. The ration is intended for all the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri).

Historically, the so-called "Kappa Ration" was introduced by the US Armed Forces in the 40 years. The name "K" originates from the initials of the surname of its inventor, the American nutritionist Ancel Keys, called to develop a complete, appropriate and easily transportable raccoon for the military in the combat zone.

When was it introduced to the Army?

In the EI, a ration ready for use for the combatant military was introduced during 1 ^ GM. The ration was made up of long-lasting species, namely two meat boxes and four packets of hens, usually housed in the tascapane. The rations could only be consumed at the commander's disposal when there was no chance of having a hot meal.

During the Second World War the ration was composed of a can of meat and 500 grams of savory biscuits.

The first Italian k partition was introduced in the 1952: it had a weight of 2,6 kg. and a calorie power of about 4.000 Kcal / man / day. All the components of the ration were ready for consumption, inserted in three different waxed paper boxes, one for each meal, in turn contained, together with a cooker, in the secondary packaging. The protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake was well balanced, with carbohydrate proteins prevalent in comparison with those of animal or vegetable origin.

A new ration weighing 1973 kg was introduced in the 2,7. and a caloric value equivalent to that provided by the 1952 ration. Both rations, although appreciated, not having a varied menu, were monotonous and repetitive, if consumed for many days in a row.

In 1993 the current K ration was adopted, characterized by modularity with 7 different interchangeable menus.

What are the variants today?

The ration consists of seven modules, identified by seven different colors: yellow, red, gray, green, white, pink and blue. Modules, each made up of three different boxes (breakfast, lunch and dinner), differ in their variety of dishes.

The modularity of the packaging guarantees the integrity and freshness of the other two meals that can be consumed at a later time.

Each pack is provided with a disposable toothbrush, toothpaste, a box of matches, plastic cutlery, paper towels, toothpicks, a bag of salt, a small cooker, solid fuel and a sheet with instructions for use in Italian, English and French.

Some items must be preheated. No cheeses are to be rehydrated, except for freeze-dried coffee, tea and cappuccino which must be diluted in water. About 300 ml of water is needed per day to rehydrate these drinks.

The total carbohydrate is on average 55% of the total macronutrients (15% proteins and 30% lipids).

What is the energy needs of a combatant who fights?

According to recent studies conducted in the Armed Forces and specifically by a project group of the Army Logistics Command, three different levels of "weighted" physical activity have been identified (applying corrective factors according to the specific task to be performed) and the related needs calorici of three types of ration ordinary food:

to. light: kcal. 2.448,6;

b. moderate: kcal. 3.113,2;

c. heavy: kcal. 3.672,9.

The different energy input of each K module, whose average value is 3.650 kcal / person / day, is such as to guarantee a proper caloric intake even in the event of prolonged and continuous operation.

The same ration is good both in the hot desert and on a frozen top?

Generally, no. In fact, in particular cases of operational use (desert areas, tropical environment or harsh climates) it is advisable to increase the ration by resorting to specific kinds of comfort. These are foods such as chocolate, coffee, refreshing drinks, etc. which, however, must be evaluated in the context of a nutritional balance to be achieved daily.

How long can you go ahead of K ration before it comes to nausea?

On average, it is recommended to consume the K rations up to a period of 30 days.

Last year the Italian ones won in a competition held in Kabul. How are we better today than others?

The Italian K ration is appreciated for the variety and taste of the foods it contains, for the nutritional contribution ensured by a traditionally balanced cuisine like the Italian one. The daily three-meal form is different for each day of the week. This makes the ration itself an extremely varied “soldier's lunch”, with about twenty different menus a week. Among the most pleasant dishes we highlight ravioli and tortellini with meat sauce, but also pasta and beans, vegetable soup, chicken or turkey in jelly, tuna and peas, etc., dishes far more refined than those of the military menus of other nations. The breakfast is equally rich, including cordial, powdered cappuccino, extra dark chocolate, etc.

An advice to readers who are trekking or mountaineering and must optimize the weight / calorie ratio: if you were to compose a ration in a normal supermarket, what product mix would you achieve?

The sector studies show that in these sports activities the caloric losses can vary between 200 and 1.200 kcal / hour, as the energy requirement depends on the type of route, the speed, the weather conditions and the material used. Because of this, a level of light physical activity requires approx. 2.500 Kcal (for an ascent of 5 hours, the estimated caloric loss is: 5 × 500 kcal / h = 2.500 kcal), equivalent to: proteins g. 92 - carbohydrates g. 337 - lipids g. 82.

Therefore, with the help of the nutrition information on the food packaging, it is possible to calculate the distribution of the glucids, lipids and proteins of the different foods, thus comparing the desired daily ration.

In principle, the choice can fall on: fresh fruit (apple), dehydrated fruit (pineapple, papaya), dried (apricots, raisins, raisins, prunes dried fruit or freeze-dried), bars (dietetic), condensed milk, chocolate, dry biscuits, crakers and some sliced. It is advisable to always have a small stock of these foodstuffs in the backpack, plus a few sachets of salt supplements to use in any moments of crisis.