Forget the heat, the sandstorms, the crushing boredom and even the scorpions, spiders and snakes … the worst thing about being a EUFOR peacekeeper out in the eastern Chadian desert is: the food.
Especially if you happen to be Polish, or a guest of the Polish contingent.
God bless those brave Poles. A hundred troops from the new NATO member and staunch U.S. ally flew to Iriba, eastern Chad, in April to begin building a large base for follow-on forces. In July these new forces will begin patrolling around Chad’s sprawling refugee camps. Their lives will be austere. But for the Polish advance party, life is positively primitive. They crap in holes. They sleep on cots in tents that have a habit of blowing away in the wind. And for half their meals they eat the same God-awful Polish military combat rations.
Each ration pack contains: dried tea, dried coffee, lots and lots of sugar, plus two — that’s right, TWO — different types of canned, processed, pureed meat and four tiny, rock-hard biscuits (pictured). You can almost force down the smoother of the two meats if you can find mustard or ketchup and a couple slices of bread. But the chunkier meat looks, and tastes, like roadkill. One night over a dinner of rations, one Irish soldier speculated, in total seriousness, that the rations had been stored in a bunker since the Cold War and dragged out because, after decades of storage, they were finally going bad.
On the plus side, rumor has it that each biscuit contains just enough fiber to counteract the gut-clogging effects of the canned meat.