During a field training exercise, soldiers must have basic combat needs met in order to complete the mission including medical support, fuel and hot meals.

To keep soldiers’ morale high and stomachs full, Forward Support Company Foxtrot, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, must serve meals to seven units assigned to the brigade during their combined arms live-fire exercise.

“We serve hot meals to 750 soldiers a day. This is not an easy task since we have to be up before all soldiers in the field do,” said Sgt. 1st Class Noel Black, operations food service manager for the company. “Our schedule starts at 1:30 in the morning and we start preparing for our daily meals.”

The brigade is conducting a 10-day training exercise designed to test the capabilities of its six battalions. During this training, the units’ individual strengths and weaknesses will be identified.

The exercise is the final stepping stone in preparation for a one-month rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Food service specialists who have deployed to combat environments believe this type of training exceeds their expectations, and that this is the best training they can receive before a training center rotation or deployment to any hardship environment.

“There is a big difference between working in the dining facility and working in a mobile kitchen,” said Spc. Monica Angeles Binford, a food service specialist. “Here we have to do everything from supplying our own material, utensils and food for us to cook and still having to deliver it to seven different units that we are supporting during this training.”

Soldiers’ work schedules usually begin at 6:30 a.m. when they report for physical training. By then, cooks have already been working for five hours.

“Being a cook during a training environment is not easy,” Binford said. “This training is hard, but it will have us ready for any type of deployment environment that we can be tasked with.”

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