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Fort Leonard Wood to Assess New Field Kitchen

The U.S. Army's mobile kitchen will be put to the test on Fort Leonard Wood during a demonstration that will assess new energy-efficient appliances used to feed about 1,000 Soldiers, April 21, 2015. (U.S. Army photo)
The U.S. Army's mobile kitchen will be put to the test on Fort Leonard Wood during a demonstration that will assess new energy-efficient appliances used to feed about 1,000 Soldiers, April 21, 2015. (U.S. Army photo)

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- The U.S. Army's mobile kitchen will be put to the test on Fort Leonard Wood during a demonstration that will assess new energy-efficient appliances used to feed about 1,000 Soldiers, April 21.

Eight cooks, with the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, or MEB, will be the first to use the appliances to prepare and serve 350 pounds of steak, 350 pounds of fries and 252 pounds of green beans in the new Modular Appliances for Configurable Kitchens also referred to as the Containerized Kitchen - Improved. 

Staff Sgt. Joshua Phillips, 4th MEB cook, said the Soldiers are excited to use the new appliances, which include a combination of griddles, servers, Hawkmoor burners, convection ovens, French-plates and tilt skillets. The Soldiers are also eager to have a say in what may be the Army's future mobile kitchens, he said.

"The biggest thing the Soldiers, preparing the food, are looking forward to is that we will have a chance to provide feedback on the equipment and hopefully be able to help get equipment that is more user friendly once it actually gets fielded," Phillips said.

Researchers and developers with the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Capability Development and Integration Directorate and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts, will lead the demonstration at the fort's Contingency Basing Integration Technology Evaluation Center, or CBITEC - a training base camp that is used as a lab to assess capabilities and evaluate new technologies for the Army. 

Mark Ferguson, who heads up the CBITEC, said the demonstration, which will be the first for the lab, allows researchers the opportunity to evaluate the efficiency and operability of the kitchen and appliances.

"The new kitchen and appliances were designed to address specific capability gaps found with the existing appliances in the areas of function and design," Ferguson said.

Specifically, he said, the existing appliances are inefficient and noisy, require a generator, cannot be removed from the kitchen, and dump all their heat and exhaust into the cooking area. "The new appliances address all those issues, will use far less fuel, and can be operated on solar power," Ferguson said. 

One area the cooks will be assessing is the kitchen's temperature, said Phillips, who is looking forward to a "cooler, more comfortable piece of equipment to cook in." 

"The kitchens we have now are extremely loud and, during summer, extremely hot to the point that a cell phone will turn off. My cell phone actually said, 'Due to hot temps, the cell phone is powering off.' I've never seen a cell phone do that before," Phillips said.

After the demonstration, the data collected will be used to determine the levels of savings the Army would see if the new kitchen and appliances were used to feed Soldiers at base camps around the world.

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