Consolidate Mess line, or German prisoners marching out of Stalingrad?
In almost every way, I liked the draft Army and the Cold War Army better than the 21st Century Army, but that is not true of food. More specifically, that is not true of the way the food was served at Fort Carson, Colorado, in 1975-76: The Consolidated Mess!
In the consolidated mess, up to 4,000 soldiers were expected to eat lunch and return to their duty—which meant eating lunch in two minutes or just skipping lunch altogether. The cost cutting wizard who decided to subject an entire brigade to the rotten routine for food delivery should spend a thousand years in Purgatory in a metal pan on steam table—stuck and burned on the bottom, cold and squishy on top.
My father was a company commander in World War II. The mess sergeant worked for him and cooked the food for his men. That mess sergeant worked for his commander, not for a faceless Army bureaucracy. One odd thing about the consolidated mess operation is that we all came to appreciate our own mess sergeant and the battalion mess. When we went to the field, our mess sergeant fed us. It was the same when moved en masse to West Germany for Brigade 76. The food in the field was from a battalion kitchen with our mess sergeant making and delivering our food.
But the best food I ever ate in the military was in Iraq. So I have to give the modern Army that. MREs are ten times better than C-rations and the food on Camp Adder was the best I ever had in the Army.