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MREs replaced the canned MCI, or Meal, Combat, Individual rations, in 1981, and is the intended successor to the lighter LRP ration developed by the United States Army for Special Forces and Ranger patrol units in Vietnam. During the First World War, canned meats were replaced with lightweight preserved meats (salted or dried) to save weight and allow more rations to be carried by soldiers carrying their supplies on foot.MREs have also been distributed to civilians during natural disasters. At the beginning of World War II, a number of new field rations were introduced, including the Mountain ration and the Jungle ration.
However, just as with the Jungle ration, its expense compared to canned wet rations, as well as the costs of stocking and storing a specialized field ration, led to its limited usage and repeated attempts at discontinuance by Quartermaster Command officials.
Your MRE cases will have a label with the manufacturing date on it.
The small date differences between entree varieties does not affect shelf life as the entree itself, out of all of the food components in a complete meal MRE, will last the longest.
However, cost-cutting measures by Quartermaster Command officials during the latter part of World War II and the Korean War again saw the predominance of heavy canned C rations issued to troops, regardless of operating environment or mission.
After repeated experiences with providing prepared rations to soldiers dating from before World War II, Pentagon officials ultimately realized that simply providing a nutritionally balanced meal in the field was not adequate.
They must be able to stand up to abuse tests such as obstacle course traversal in field clothing pockets; storage outdoors anywhere in the world; shipping under extremely rough circumstances (such as by truck over rocky terrain); 100% survival of parachute drops; 75% survival from free failure drops; severe repetitive vibration (1 hour at G vibration); 7,920 individual pouch drops from 20 inches; and individual pouches being subject to a static load of 200 pounds for three minutes.