Enhancing Training: 2ABCT Cook and Culinary Specialists Critical to the Mission

Photo By Spc. Trevares Johnson | U.S. Army Sgt. Natalie Fry from the 47th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division ensures troops' culinary needs are met, showcasing her proficiency and commitment during a lunch service at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany on August 23, 2023. By forgoing external contracting and relying on their own culinary expertise, the brigade is projected to save an impressive $2.2 million over the course of the rotation. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Trevares Johnson)

GRAFENWÖEHR, Germany – In a remarkable display of resourcefulness and cost-efficiency, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2ABCT), currently forward deployed to Europe supporting the 4th Infantry Division, achieved substantial savings by operating two dining facilities (DFAC) using food service personnel internal to the brigade.

During deployments, food service specialists sometimes find themselves sidelined due to food service contracted out. However, at Grafenwoehr Training Area, cook and culinary specialists find themselves critical to the Atlantic Resolve mission. By adopting a self-sufficient approach, the brigade will save over $2.2 million during its nine-month rotation. The strategic decision boosts financial efficiency and fosters camaraderie among troops as they gather around the table for a savory meal while enhancing the training experience of food service personnel.

Chief Warrant Officer 2, Shaklia Housen-Warmington, the Brigade Food Advisor, emphasized the multifaceted expertise that culinary specialists bring to a brigade. “Our Food Advisors serve as nutrition, food safety, and meal planning experts,” she explained. “They play a pivotal role in menu development to ensure our soldiers receive balanced and nourishing meals that meet their nutritional requirements. Additionally, they oversee food storage, distribution, and hygiene practices to safeguard the well-being of our troops.”

The brigade’s decision to rely solely on its soldiers to operate two DFACs has yielded rewarding results. Housen-Warmington highlighted the effectiveness of the DFAC staff, stating, “The commitment and proficiency displayed by our cook and culinary Specialists have proven instrumental in streamlining our dining operations. This self-operated approach has translated into significant financial savings for the brigade, allowing us to allocate resources more efficiently toward combat readiness.”

By forgoing external contracting and relying on their culinary expertise, the brigade will save an impressive $2.2 million throughout the rotation. This substantial financial boon enables the unit to reinvest those funds into combat readiness, such as training, equipment, and other essential resources, enhancing overall operational readiness.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Roberta Adams, the brigade senior culinary management noncommissioned officer, emphasized the profound impact of having culinary specialists serve their fellow soldiers on morale and training. “When our culinary specialists have the unique opportunity to contribute directly to the well-being of their fellow soldiers through preparing meals, it creates a sense of camaraderie and solidarity,” she noted. “The positive effects ripple through the unit, fostering a strong sense of unity and enhancing overall troop morale.”

Reflecting on her journey, Adams added, “As a junior soldier, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to serve my comrades through culinary contributions directly. Now, witnessing its transformational effects on our unit’s cohesion and readiness, I can truly appreciate the significance of this approach. It’s not just about food; it’s about boosting the spirits of our troops and reinforcing their sense of purpose.”

The decision to operate the DFAC with internal resources aligns with the brigade’s commitment to maximizing combat efficiency while promoting a supportive and collaborative environment across the formation. This training opportunity is unique because it is the only forward operating station where 2ABCT soldiers manage the food service. By entrusting culinary specialists to play an active role in nourishing their fellow soldiers, the brigade achieves financial savings while cultivating a sense of pride and mutual respect within the ranks.

As the brigade’s rotation continues, the employment of cook and culinary specialists exemplifies the brigade’s resourcefulness to maximize combat power through fiscal responsibility. The success of the dining facility not only highlights the culinary prowess of the brigade’s soldiers and showcases the value of strategic decision-making that enhances money as a weapon, training, and unit morale.

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team maintains a significant number of combat-capable forces in Europe. It exists to deter aggression; if deterrence fails, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Allies and partners against that aggression. The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, headquarters is forward deployed to Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland.

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