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MREs by the Numbers- Taken From Beans to Bullets Logistics for the Non-Logistican

Click the link to find your copy of Beans to Bullets Logistics for the Non-Logistician

Now it’s time to look at some Power Factors pertaining to hot chow.

Start with a planning factor of 50 Soldiers. In this case each “M” in the ration cycle will equal 50 MREs.
Yes, that was insultingly simple. Now comes the unpopular act of multiplying and dividing by 12.

  • 1x Case of MREs = 12 MREs.
  • Divide the number of Soldiers by 12 and you have number of cases necessary for each “M” in the cycle.

1.  50 divided by 12= 4.1666666 Which means 4 cases and 2 single MREs.

  • If you have a ration cycle of M-U-M and you are picking up MREs for two days how many cases will you need to pick up?

1.  50 (Soldiers) / 12 (One Case) x 2 (MREs per day) x 2 (Days) = 16.7 (Just grab 17)

  • But MREs have more relevant numbers. The number 23 for example is the approximate weight in pounds for each box of MREs. What will be the total weight of the two day supply you have been tasked to receive?

1.  23lbs x 17 MRE Cases = 391lbs

  • Another important number for MREs is .9 which is the amount of cubic space needed for a single case. Your MRE supply mission will require just over 15 cubic feet of space.

That’s all interesting but moving out to a mission or field exercise with one Unit Basic Load (UBL) will probably be closer to the standard. The UBL for MREs is defined as 9 MREs per Soldier. Consider the numbers we just calculated based on this standard.

  • 50 Soldiers x 9 MREs = 450 MREs
  • 450 divided by 12 (1 case) = 37.5 (we’ll grab 38) Cases of MREs
  • 38 cases x 23 lbs = 874 lbs
  • 38 cases x .9 (cubic feet) = 34.2 cubic feet

These are just some things to consider when it comes to transportation, loading, unloading and storage… And that’s just fifty people.

BONUS: How to Calculate Your Current Stock of MREs at a Glance Using the Sofa Method.

Most of us walk into the company CP and see what appears to be a mountain of MREs. We simply think, ‘wow, we’re set.’ Or are we? The Sofa Method will give you a more discerning eye.

  • A full size sofa takes up approximately 84 square feet. So if that stack of MREs in your CP resemble the size of a sofa then depending on the ration cycle you are looking at enough MREs to feed

1.  100 Soldiers M-M-M for 3 ½ days; or

2.  50 Soldiers for 7 days; or

3.  200 Soldiers for just under 2 days.

  • What looks like a “mountain” of MREs in the company CP might only be 48 hours for a company element.

“How Many Days DOS Do We Have?”

If you’ve heard this question and knew the meaning of “DOS” then the whole thing sounded like nonsense. Since DOS means Days of Supply then the question is actually, “How many days Days of Supply do we have”? It is nonsense but just another example of what happens when the endless acronyms of the profession become too casual.

There is often frustration with “DOS” because it rarely means the same thing twice and it can be answered in variable ways. What goes into determining a day of supply for food? Primarily the number of Soldiers and the ration cycle so there are a large number of possible definitions of DOS. So, how many DOS Do you have?

  • The Ration Cycle is M-U-M
  • You are responsible for 50 Soldiers and so 1 x M will be 50 MREs
  1.  You have 200 MREs on hand

2.  50 Soldiers x 2M per day = 100 MREs per day

3.  200 MREs = 2 DOS

The S4 will determine whether this represents an Amber, Red or Black status

MKTs by the Numbers

You will most likely not be involved in detailed planning for MKT operations but here are a couple things just for perspective. An MKT will use less than 20 Gallons of Fuel per day. It’s not much (just a few fuel cans) but always worth keeping in mind

  • An MKT will utilize 1.75 gallons of water per Soldier per day for food preparation and sanitization.

  1.  With a U-M-U ration cycle and 100 Soldiers to feed this requires a planning factor 100 Soldiers x 2 (“U”) x 1.75 gallons = 350 Gallons of water per day

Planning Considerations for MREs

  • Temperature! Food items are greatly impacted by heat and cold. MREs and MKTs respond in opposite manners. This is also the answer to the classic Soldier question, ‘how long are MREs good?’ (Common answer: When were they ever good.)

  1.  MREs stored at a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit can last up to 4 years.

2.  MREs stored at 80 F will last about 3 years

3.  MREs stored at 100 F will only last about 6 months

  • Since most MREs experience many temperature variables it is up to unit leaders to strive for lower temperature and covered areas for storage. If extended exposure to high temperatures occur, it is worth noting and communicating to the S4
  • Ration cycle, Number of Soldiers, Number of days of training (these are for calculations as seen earlier)
  • How will the MREs be secured once they are on site? MREs are prone to theft. The company CP and 1SGs vehicle are common solutions but larger quantities require more space and require additional storage plans.
  • When and how will the MREs be distributed. Any disorganization or improperly supervised issuing of MREs results in premature shortage of MREs 100% of the time.
  • When distributing food proper documentation is a must.
  1.  Soldiers receiving their full BAS must sign for each meal consumed so that the correct amount can be deducted from their pay.

2.  Soldiers on meal cards must sign for food to maintain accountability and proper budgeting  for food

3.  The S4 should provide guidance to company leadership and arrange the documents before the training event.

  • MRE’s should be stored in locations that are: Cool, covered secured, and not prone to flooding or easily accessible to wild animals.

For More Information on this subject and more see the following resource(s):

Beans to Bullets Logistics for the Non-Logistician

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posted on 04/02/2018 under Articles
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training..

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