Generally, food is not prepared or served in an environment contaminated by NBC
agents. It is important to continue operations only after ensuring adequate individual
protection. Field kitchens must be moved to uncontaminated areas and decontaminated
before food service can be resumed. It is important to remember that striking and loading
the field kitchen is more difficult and takes longer when soldiers are wearing chemical
protective clothing. The tactical situation and the priorities for decontamination will
determine how long MREs are used.
In exceptional situations it may be necessary to serve food in a contaminated
environment. The decision to feed in a contaminated environment rests with the
commander. Provisions must be made to partially decontaminate personnel and ensure
that food does not contact contaminated terrain or material. The method of feeding
troops in such an environment depends on the type and extent of contamination and on
the availability of protective shelters. Troops in an area contaminated by chemical agents
with no detectable vapor hazard or in an area where they are under the constant threat of
NBC attack must be fed on a rotating basis. Feed about 25% of the troops at a time. The
other 75% should remain masked. Take care at all times to avoid contaminating food.
If the troops are in a contaminated area where there is also a vapor hazard, feed them
inside a shelter equipped with an overpressure system. The overpressure system fills the
shelter with pressurized air that has been filtered to remove NBC contamination. The
M20 simplified collective protection equipment includes a built-in overpressure system.
Since this shelter has a limited capacity, the commander and the FOS must plan to feed
the troops in shifts. Entering and exiting this shelter is a complicated procedure. FM 3-4
describes how it is done. STP 21-1-SMCT contains more information on how to survive
and conduct operations in a contaminated environment.