82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC



The lightest solution for a field stove

With the advent of the flameless MRE heater using water chemical reaction, "heat tablets" have all but disappeared. However MRE heaters cannot boil water to purify it of dangerous germs when making coffee, tea or soup. All is not lost if you can obtain a "Natick Stove", NSN 8465-01-3632, which is basically an aluminum ring with vent holes. You can start a small fire using twigs/pine cones/wood shavings created by your knife underneath as your canteen cup sits on top.

Weighing less than even a couple of ounces, the Natick Stove fits around your canteen not being use to store the canteen cup. We recommend carrying the Natick stove and canteen cup in your rucksack during parachute operations and to wear flexible 1 quart canteens on your LBE so you can avoid lower body injuries in event you land on a hard runway, rocks etc. After recovering from the jump, transfer your Natick stove and canteen cup to your canteen covers around your flexible 1 quarts canteens.

Obtaining the stove is the hardest part--Bargain Square Military Surplus Store located next to Tire Kind on Raeford Road (telephone 910-677-0172) POC: Mrs. Williams has several in stock. They also have a large supply of heat tablets if you don't want to use your SERE skills to create a heat source. Online surplus stores like Ranger Joe's, U.S. Cavalry Store and Brigade Quartermasters usually have Natick Stoves for sale, too.

Without a Natick Stove, two empty M16/M4 5.56mm magazines sideways on the ground can straddle a canteen cup over a fire/heat tab. A handful of beef/chicken bullion cubes into a canteen cup weigh a few grams in weight, but can keep you going in a survival situation.

Care must be taken to make your small fire in a low area with rocks, fallen logs, etc.......to shield the light emitted from the fire and smoke dissipated by creating an overhang of branches, leaves held over the fire by an adjacent tree.

Obviously if you can do without a hot drink/meal using MRE heaters, do so for tactical reasons, but in the Arctic or bone-chilling mountains, say in Bosina or Afghanistan; a tactically sound fire using precautions to shield light/smoke, may be a necessity for survival and optimum performance.

These truths have een rediscovered in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda:


Soldiers discovered with MRE ration heaters in the high altitudes of Afghanistan, they were unable to heat food and boil water! Something civilian mountaineers have known for years! MSR stoves have become highly useful items. While it may not be economical or wise to outfit and weigh down each Soldier with a MSR stove--perhaps every fireteam---its easily possible to issue Natick Stoves and heat tabs to get the job done providing they are trained to mask smoke signatures.