The Guardian reporter recently went to Kabul and did a run down on some of the army rations of the various countries that was participating peacekeeping operations there. The public finally had a view of what goes into the stomach of these soldiers from the vast array of packeted and canned food. Singapore’s humble ration however, disappointed the journalist, stating:
“The offerings in the Singapore pack were sparse despite its reputation for high-quality cuisine.There were a paltry three dishes, of Szechuan chicken noodles; a mushroom, basil, rice and chicken dish; and soya milk with red-bean dessert”
(at this time I would like retort back to the Brit Reporter that we do not eat Chili Crab or laksa everyday, nor would you expect to them in our army ration. Normal Singaporeans enjoy what you call paltry dishes, what we sometimes call ‘Cai Png’ and dessert is the beloved Ang Tau soup )
Singaporeans quickly mailed into The Guardian, in a bid to protect Singapore’s cuisine and army’s pride, and the British news agency quickly inserted a footnote the day after:
“This footnote was appended on 19 February 2014. The Singapore pack is, in fact, only the main pack. In addition each Singaporean soldier receives an “accessory” pack as part of a 24-hour ration package, which includes canned drinks, energy bars, isotonic drinks powder, tinned food, instant noodles, biscuits, “candy”, instant tea and coffee, tissue paper, and heating packs. “
Most know that what is shown to the reporter is entirely a fraction of the complete Singapore Army ration menu. The possible scenario of what happened in Afghanistan was that the Singaporean soldier did the smart thing by giving away the probably ‘least appetizing ration set’. The Main meals are named Set A, B or C (or 1, 2 or 3 if my memory hasn’t failed me), and some are better than the other. And keeping the prized accessory set to himself, leaving the poor Guardian photographer with only three dull green main pack to shoot.
Now, most Singaporean army boys would probably agree that the secondary ,or accessory, pack is one of the more sought after, sometimes more than the main pack. Each pack would differ from each other, some with Ribena, some Ice Lemon Tea, and Horlicks or Oveltine candies differ as well . Most will remember the exchanging the content with their buddies, and the biscuits and energy bar became the standard item in our magazine pouch.
However on a more serious note, many young NSFs might envy the French or Australian menu, the Singapore ration is much well thought after, from packaging to content. And do note that in that article, Singapore is the only Asian country amongst the 9 other Western armies.
1. The Caucasian soldiers have high daily calories intake ranges to around 4000 – 5000 calories, thus requiring them to eat a cow to keep them moving. Asian bodies require only 3000-3500 calories. Thus, thus is packed in the SAF ration is more than sufficient for us to fight on.
2. Compared to the American or Aussie soldiers, most Singapore soldier are smaller Asian build men, weighing between 70-90kg. The US Army summer field pack weighs around 88 pounds (40 kg), however these bigger men are able to bear the load of multiple ration meals packed into their towering bags. Now imagine adding more to our 25-35kg field pack in addition to ammo, comms set and other military equipment. Note the tin cans in some countries, these will not only add weight to their bags, the irregular shape from the cans rolling around will not help in having a good fit in the rugsack.
3. The mode of operations of the western soldiers involves longer missions and treks, sometimes away from the supply lines. Expeditionary forces like US and UK marines require their soldiers to be on their own. Our army, mostly consists of light infantry, travel literally, light. Fights are expected to be swift and fast, within the span of no longer than a week.
4. The rations are packed in foil and wrapped in plastic. In wet tropical climate in South East Asia, these meals will be left unscathed in the monsoon rain. The foil are dull green thus reducing glare and reflection, and do not emit unnecessary noises, unlike from tin cans. These are easy to dispose and pack away, lowering the chance of leaving traces and clues for red forces. Little things like that will save the soldier’s lives.
5. Our Ang Tau and Cai Png are easy to prepare and cook. These simple food is what will touch the hearts of the Singapore soldiers when they are away from home.