Feeding the force: Improving morale one meal at a time

TARIN KOWT, AFGHANISTAN 09.06.2018 Photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Subscribe 17 Soldiers throughout the base store beverages into containers, Sept. 6, 2018, in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. Soldiers from the base assist culinary specialist with Company J, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, with supply pick-up, storage and kitchen police duty. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)


Story by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
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TARIN KOWT, Afghanistan – After a long day of pulling guard duty, repairing vehicles and equipment or advising Afghan leaders in the Uruzgan Province, the Soldiers of Tarin Kowt look forward to eating a full-course hot meal for dinner every day.

The base, which NATO Special Operations Forces formally used, was cleared and secured earlier this year by Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment to assist and support the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade with their advisory missions.

The residents of the newly established base, unlike most service members throughout southern Afghanistan, have their meals prepared in a mobile kitchen trailer by the culinary specialists of Company J, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

“Our primary mission here is to provide healthy and hardy meals for everyone twice a day; breakfast and dinner,” said Staff Sgt. Pierreline Pierre, culinary NCO in charge for Company J, 1st Bn., 41st Inf. Reg. “It’s important that everyone is fed and healthy so they can complete their missions for the base.”

With sometimes-minimal resources, Pierre said she and her team of five Soldiers work hard to make sure they complete their mission of providing hot and ready meals for everyone.

“Being in an area with little resources, I have to assess wisely how the food is distributed and prepared,” said Pierre. “We try to think out of the box with the food we prepare in the kitchen and if possible we provide sandwiches for lunch so that Soldiers and civilians don’t have to eat (Meals, Ready-To-Eat) for lunch every day.”

Little gestures like a sandwich bar during lunch go a long way for the Soldiers and civilians of the base according to Staff Sgt. James Potier, with the North Carolina National Guard.

“Before the kitchen was set up and running, everyone was eating three MRE’s a day and it can be tiresome,” said Portae. “Having a hot breakfast in the morning and hot dinner in the evening is amazing; everyone goes through the chow line happy.”

The experience that the junior Soldiers are gaining during their time in Tarin Kowt will not only enhance their skill sets but it will set them apart from their peers said Pierre.

“We are the only group of culinary specialists from the brigade that are proving meals with a (mobile kitchen trailer) in Afghanistan,” she said. “My Soldiers are getting hands on experience on how to build a dining facility from scratch, working under stress and with limited supplies.”

Pierre said although her team might not have a luxurious kitchen or a surplus of supplies she is proud of the morale they are able to provide to everyone.

“I remind my Soldiers that after a long day everyone comes to our dinning facility and looks forward to what we have prepared for them,” she said. “I also remind them to put their best foot forward and to be proud of what they are making and serving to everyone because we are important to the mission as well.”

Portea said he and his Soldiers are always happy to help the culinary team whether it is storing away supplies or helping with kitchen police duty.

“With the small crew of Soldiers and resources that the culinary team has here they do a great job of providing and taking care of us,” he said. “We appreciate everything they do from waking up earlier than everyone else to make breakfast for us, to surprising us with snacks and treats in the middle of the day, we couldn’t be more thankful to have them here.”

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