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British Military Catering System’s History and Future Research Paper

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Introduction

Every army on active duty requires food and water for its survival. In fact, most military victories have been won based on access to food and water. In essence, when the army is well fed, then success can easily be achieved. In the past, armies used to block inlet for food or water to their adversaries thereby forcing them to surrender. This happened in ancient Greek wars, among others. Napoleon had once stated that any army could only march on its stomach. Napoleon’s remark only strengthened the fact that a contented army is one that is well fed. Presently, army officers must be well catered for to achieve any success in war (Taylor, 2015).

Over the years, catering has become an important element in elite forces. Massive planning is required when catering for the army. Thousands of British army officers are stationed abroad. While some British servicemen are in Afghanistan and Iraq, others are stationed in Kosovo, among others. In essence, providing catering services for British army is not only challenging but also extensive. This paper will research on the British military catering system. I chose this production system because it would provide me with the skills to manage such challenging jobs in the future (Thompson, 2007).

History

Before World War II, each unit of the army had the responsibility of making its own food. Essentially, every battalion had the role of assigning cooks from its unit to provide food. In general, soldiers would cook for themselves in accordance with their units. British army built its first catering school in 1885. The catering school was built in Aldershot. However, there was no central command of the activities. This resulted in varied standard of foods depending on the unit at which food is prepared. As a result, each unit produced its own brand of food that differed in quality and recipes from the rest.

The royal army service corps (RASC) governed the British cookery school at the time. In fact, it should be noted that standards of the cookery schools differed greatly. Moreover, the cookery schools remained under RASC until 1965. Pay trade program that comprised of the army units began in the mid 1930s. This revolutionary event marked the start of enhanced cookery in the army. However, it did not solve all the problems associated with unit cookery. In fact, these issues persisted throughout the period. In essence, the system of production of food for British army had not been perfected (BMH, 2016).

As mentioned above, unit cookery experienced several issues. For instance, cooking kits as well as food storage facilities were usually poor. In most cases, food was prepared at a central location. Thereafter, it was supplied to the rooms of soldiers. This method had its own limitations since more often food would be taken to individuals when it was already chilly. This exposed food to germs as well as other impurities. Clearly, soldiers were not contented with this kind of cookery as it exposed them to diseases. Moreover, this kind of service was slow as it wasted time distributing food to each individual’s room. However, this was changed by the new secretary of state for war in 1938.

Leslie Hore-Belisha ordered a review of British army catering. Major general Beck headed this review. A report from the review was compiled to the secretary. This report contained a detailed review of career arrangement for army cooks as well as the system for production and distribution of food. However, its recommendations were found to be very expensive. Nonetheless, an alternative route was approved for implementation. This involved appointing advisors to the catering army. In this regard, Sir Isidore Salmon became the honourary advisor while Mr. R. Byford became the catering advisor in the rank of a colonel.

In the same year (1938), RASC established a cookery school in Aldershot. The school was stationed at one of the Barracks (Buller). This school is still regarded as the first throughout the UK for military chefs. Initially, structures were acquired from the civilians specialised in catering trade. Nonetheless, cooks were still left as contingents in their respective areas. This trend went on until quartermaster came up with the issue of establishing independent catering personnel (ACC) in 1940.

This issue raised a debate, which was won initially by those who proposed that civilians were well equipped to fill the role of catering. However, in the latter stages, it was seen that solders could actually work as full-time cooks in the army. This decision was reached at through experience gained from early stages of World War II that necessitated need for full time trained army cooks. Thereafter, the ACC was established in early 1940s. Initially, it remained under the guidance of RASC. In fact, it was a subsidiary of RASC. Moreover, a repository was also built at the nearby barracks. In addition, an institution for cooks was also opened at the same venue during the same period.

Once ACC was formed, the arrangement for food production was changed. All selected cooks from the army were deployed to the new centre. In fact, only hospital cooks were left to prepare and distribute food for the sick. The latter group was left as members of royal army medical corps (RAMC). Nonetheless, it should be noted that members of ACC were also deployed to general hospitals in order to serve the personnel. It should also be noted that improving the quality of food provided to soldiers during the Second World War (WWII) remained a challenge.

This was very demanding particularly when dealing with troops on duty. Chief among the issues concerning ACC was how to reduce the distance covered between the point of preparation and the point of consumption of food. In addition, they realised that storage of vegetables and meat was difficult in hot places. However, they improvised ways of washing pans and pots using the sand. Moreover, methods of discarding wastes were also challenging at the time. Moreover, the method used to prepare vegetables was long and tedious since its utilised defaulters. In most cases, the defaulters were unproductive and unconcerned (BMH, 2016).

In 1943, ACC was upgraded to a tradesman corps. This ensured that its personnel were given improved payment. Moreover, their working conditions were also improved. In addition, they were no longer considered as outright frontline soldiers. Nonetheless, at times they could still be seen in the frontline. In fact, records shows that ACC suffered 1316 casualties of which 659 died. After WWII, the Army Council maintained ACC in the British army. Later on, the corps started making direct staffing in late 1940s. This process enabled the corps to develop their own structure for career development and promotion. Fortunately, in 1965, ACC became independent thereby allowing it to improve its career structure. Later on, the ACC merged with other corps divisions to form what is now known as the royal logistics corps (RLC).

Thereafter, several changes have occurred with the establishment of Pay As You Dine (PAYD) catering system. This system was introduced in 2005 and it has proved successful over the years. Nonetheless, it also faced obstacles. A unit in the ministry of defence known as Defence Food Services is mandated with the task of managing catering policy in the United Kingdom. The team is stationed at Ensleigh, in Bath. The team delivers catering policy as well as guides various regiments, navy and air force stationed all over the world. In addition, the team provides information strategy for food supply, infrastructure and catering, among others.

The team also ensures quality assurance is observed as well as operational ratio packs. This system has improved working environment for servicemen since they would be charged even when they never had a meal at the barracks. Currently, PAYD ensures that they are charged fairly with a wide range of meals. Moreover, the charge is capped at just 3.76 pounds, which provides soldiers with core meal for all the three main meals. In essence, soldiers are able to eat what they want at a base price throughout the day.

Geography

Operation catering differs from one landscape to another. Essentially, operational catering in land environment is different from that of maritime environment (DFS, 2015). Nonetheless, DFS tries to ensure that a normal diet is provided in all the environments. Aldershot, where ACC is situated is an important garrison based in South East England. The Garrison is situated amid two towns namely Farnborough as well as Aldershot. Over the years, the Garrison has been considered as the home of the royal army. The garrison is home to about seventy army divisions as well as other institutions. Key among its importance is the fact that it acts as the headquarters to support command.

Moreover, it also acts as an administrative base for logistic brigade 101. The garrison covers about 500acres. It is home to around ten thousand five hundred people. Moreover, the garrison has an exercise centre for the army of about two thousand seven hundred hectares that is flanking it. Moreover, the garrison expected to be a hub for southeast super garrison with advanced satellite set up. The garrison is also home to 10 Tpt RLC that supports the 101 logistics brigade. The garrison is separated into two camps according to their directions namely North and South. Wells constructed barracks that came up later in both camps.

The barracks in the north camp became known as Marlborough lines while the ones in the south camp were referred to as Stanhope lines. Nonetheless, modern barracks were later constructed to replace the Victorian ones. The garrison currently consists of about 3900 residing soldiers. In addition, it has about 1000 transient military personnel as well as about 770 civil servants. In addition, there are about 5000 service dependents. The base has two thousand one hundred and forty five houses for settling families. Other parts of the base consist of a sports ground, parade fields. Additionally, the garrison has a sports centre as well as health centre.

The garrison is situated at the centre of intersections joining two main roads. A number of landmarks are also present at the military town. These include base church as well as Wellington statue (IRCA, 2016). In addition, it contains landmarks such as the town’s observatory as well as a cemetery for the army. The military training field that is adjacent to the garrison is usually open to public whenever it is not used by the military. The areas around the garrison include two of the largest ports in Europe known as Southampton and Portsmouth. The area also has two national parks known as South Downs and New forest.

Important change agents

In the past, catering system utilised various traditional cookery methods to feed soldiers. Moreover, before the establishment of ACC, catering was not centralised. That is, soldiers would cook for themselves in their respective units. However, over the years, change agents have brought about change in the way food is produced and distributed to soldiers. Some of the change agents that brought about this change include industrial revolution, which led to the development of advanced cooking equipment like the OFCS, which has enabled catering in the field as well as in barracks.

Before industrial development, soldiers would use crooked or traditional means to cooks food thereby wasting time that is an essential part of their duty. Another change agent was the global threat of terrorism, which forced soldiers to access different terrains across the world to stem terrorism. This forced them to utilise modern technology in ensuring food is supplied to solders in combat within the shortest time possible without interfering with their tasks. Environmental factors also played an important role in determining production system utilised in cookery. Most traditional methods were harmful to the environment; this ensured that less harmful technology is developed in catering to provide a safer environment (IAPWS, 2013).

Climatic conditions also necessitated the need for conventional technology since the weather interfered with traditional cooking methods such as the use of firewood when it rained heavily or during snow. Moreover, troops in different environments could not allow for traditional methods of production since the conditions were hostile. These among other change agents promoted the need for new production system that is rarely affected by the agents. For instance, OFCS has enabled advancements in catering system due to its convenience. Moreover, the current production system has enabled quick distribution of food to various regiments attached to different parts of the world (Brett, 2007).

Culture

Aldershot is considered a military town. In addition, it is considered a place of cultural mix. Soldiers in Aldershot come from varying cultures throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Gurkha soldiers have been in Aldershot for decades. Their settlement was secured because of Joanna Lumley’s campaign to ensure safety of the Nepalese residents. In fact, around 10 % of Aldershot residents are Nepalese. Tension has risen with the community due to pressure on local infrastructure.

Moreover, institutions in Aldershot have been forced to hire translators to help accommodate the elderly Nepalese. Local residents have also added to the confusion by concluding that Nepalese population is helping drain finite resources in the area. Nonetheless, it can be noted that the varying cultures that reside in Aldershot are making it difficult for them to catch up with other towns. The government is encouraging integration with the Gurkhas since they are an asset to the country (MOD, 2015).

Wages for employees

Catering in RLC is considered one of the best careers in catering trade. For instance, catering for royal navy is considered exciting and one of the most promising career structures in the trade. Essentially, working conditions are improved with added responsibilities that ensure chefs are able to sustain their menus. Moreover, chefs go beyond cooking especially when at the sea where they are depended on for morale boosting. In addition, they are valued for their ability to boost health. In essence, the crew holds chef highly in such vessels.

Therefore, employees in catering are treated fairly by both their employers and the attended. It should also be noted that chefs learn various skills, which range from fine dining to high-volume catering. In addition, they travel widely throughout the world where they discover various new cuisines and ingredients. Moreover, chefs in British army develop recognised cookery qualifications that make them professional cooks. Moreover, chefs also learn advanced skills that make them an essential part of advanced medical team. This enables them to assist damage control teams in fighting floods and fires (RAF, 2016).

Chefs also have a mouth watering wage which increases with each progress in their career. For instance, their salary starts with over 14600 pounds per years. This can rise to more than 18000 pounds per year once the chef has completed his or her role in specific training. Moreover, chefs have the ability to earn more than 48000 pounds as they gain experience and progress their careers within the military.

In essence, chefs in military catering have the ability to earn extra financial bonuses in accordance with roles they are given. Moreover, they have other benefits, which include involvement in house purchase scheme (RN, 2016). To crown it all, employees in military catering also have paid holiday of up to six weeks every year. In this respect, it can be noted that treatment of catering employees has improved over the years. Moreover, they have more benefits than other civil servants do in the UK (Davies, 2016).

Innovation

Before the arrangement of catering system, British soldiers in the field used to take breakfast, which comprised of tea, milk, bread, butter and saloop. Interestingly, some of the soldiers would enhance their rations by buying other foods like pork of cheese. This showed that the rations were inadequate for the soldiers (Henderson, 2013). However, innovation brought about new rations that were aimed at presenting British army with recommended rations that would provide required energy in accordance with their body needs. The current meal rations provided to soldiers depict the new technologies that have advanced modern recipes.

Innovation has changed the ways chefs prepare food. For instance, researches on ration packs have enabled catering departments to prepare ready to eat foods with preservatives for use on missions. Moreover, Improved technology has led to manufacturing of the latest food processing equipment like OFCS, which have greatly improved food production system. OFCS has the capability of cooking100 people. Moreover, it has the ability to enable storage and preparing of food. In addition, it can allow for cooking and distribution of food. In general, innovation has changed the way food is produced in the army.

Contemporary uses

Food system in the military has eveolved over the years. Current food system utilises advanced methodologies as well as advanced machineries to produce food. Some of the contemporary equipment used in food system includes advanced cookery facility like OFCS and mobile kitchens. This shows a big contrast from previous methodologies that included traditional cooking methods using firewood (Rogers, 2005).

Besides, contemporary storage facilities are momentous given that they use modern technologies to preserve food. This contrasts traditional storage methods, which were used such as the use of sand. Currently, vegetables and fruits can be preserved for use in field using refrigerated aircrafts or vessels (Edwards &Hartwell, 2010). Moreover, modern packaging methods have also enabled ready to eat food to be stored long enough to reach soldiers in combat far away from the centre of production. Previously used cook sets have been replaced by OFCS kit that has greatly improved culinary production system in the army (ACC, 2016).

It should also be noted that current army chefs are visionary and creative. These chefs create new recipes utilising various ingredients as provided for them by Army ration packs (Adams, 2014). It should be noted that various chefs in the army have developed new recipes. For instance, a contemporary breakfast recipe can comprise of Porridge oats, bacon grill, and backed beans in tomato sauce. Additionally it can contain sausages in vegetable oil, egg substitute and strawberry Jam. Similarly, modern main meal can comprise of chicken white sauce, long grain rice, potato flakes and garden peas. This can also include whole carrots, fruit cocktail and instant custard.

Future Trends

Various entrepreneurs, chefs and food artisans have come together with a view of moving catering to the next level. In this regard, they have utilised new technologies on the existing food industry to improve quality of food. Massive transformations have been experienced in culinary industry with a view to improve food system (Made, 2015). Moreover, technology has been utilised to improve chain of food production within the industry.

The British army has acquired numerous technologies to improve the general dining experience of its troops within the barracks as well as those on mission. Some of the trends that have set future trends are apps and software developed to improve food value and ration. Improved research and technological developments in software will greatly improve the current production system. This will even shorten the time involved in production and distribution of food. Moreover, improved technologies in food storage would also assist in better food preservation techniques (MOD, 2015).

Conclusion

British military catering system has evolved over the years. In fact, its evolvement has several changes in the way food is produced. Noteworthy is the fact that food system has improved as compared to previous years when soldiers would be forced to cook for themselves within their units. Among the main gains in the food industry within the army are improved working conditions for chefs. In addition, salaries for chefs and their roles have been aligned with other military personnel thereby recognising their efforts in improving service delivery.

Moreover, chefs in the military have been provided with modern cooking equipment to improve food value for soldiers. Chief among the equipment utilised in modern military for preparing food are OFCS cooking facility, which has transformed food system. Others include mobile kitchens and modern ration packs, which ensure that soldiers, are supplied with all their nutritional needs. British military catering system is one of the best in the world based on its history, contemporary facilities and future prospects.

References

ACC (2016). . Web.

Adams, K. (2014). . Web.

BMH (2016). The Services 1930-1956: Army Catering Corps. Web.

Brett, J. (2007). Defense catering Manual. Web.

Davies, D. (2016). . Web.

DFS (2015). . Web.

Edwards, J. &Hartwell, H. (2010). . Web.

Henderson, R. (2013). . Web.

IAPWS (2013). Operational Field Catering System (OFCS). Web.

IRCA (2016). Feeding the UK’s military forces. Web.

Made, T. (2015). . Web.

MOD (2015). Web.

RAF (2016). Logistics: Chef. Web.

RN (2016). Chef: Royal Navy. Web.

Rogers, S. (2005). Selecting a food service system: a review. International Journal of Contemporary hospitality Management, 17(2): 157-169.

Taylor, S. (2015). Frontiers of Food: Identity and Food preparation in Roman Britain. Web.

Thompson, H. (2007). Active Service: Catering for the British Armed Forces. Web.

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