UPDATED 26 June 2010


Originally published as an article on
Wednesday, December 13, 1995

He needs: www.combatreform.org/pab.htm

It's 1918.

More than a million Americans return home from WWI, "The War to end all Wars." But they give the folks back home more than "war stories" from the rotting trenches -- Spanish influenza -- a disease that kills literally millions of Americans before itself "dying out." How important is field hygiene? More men have died throughout history from disease than war wounds. Yet, we presently force our Soldiers to buy their own hygiene items for field use as if there's a "PX" in the middle of the desert. Rommel's Africa Corps lost a third of his men to sickness as did many of the 1958 U.S. marines deployed to Lebanon. The Summer 1994 issue of the U.S. Army's THE NCO JOURNAL "News and Issues" section writes:

Disease Causes More Casualties Than Enemy Fire.

A Soldier in battle stands a greater chance of being felled by bacteria than by enemy fire.

"Every war we've been in has had more casualties to disease and nonbattle injuries than to wounded in action," says Dr. (COL) James Bales, Training and Doctrine Command surgeon.

Diseases among troops serving in undeveloped areas of the world, while preventable, are not unusual. But Bales says there are "red flags", indications that disease prevention needs to be reemphasized on installations in the United States. Limited outbreaks of illnesses have been traced to food-born bacteria. "If we deploy to a Third World Country, what's it going to be like there?"

Our haphazard approach is going to result in a national epidemic and thousands of lives lost and/or a battlefield defeat from biological weapons attacks, if we don't fix the problem now.

1989. Panama. Operation Just Cause

"...Soldiers took their shaving kit but didn't have time to replace their toothpaste and shaving cream. Most Soldiers ran out of certain toilet articles by the end of the first week. Units gave the hungry people in the villages their MREs because they thought they had plenty of rations in the CDS bundles.

Commanders took care of Soldiers by insisting that the system provide sundry packs."

U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned: Operation Just Cause Soldier Sustainment

Studies have concluded that the biggest infection risks is the mouth/gums from using the same toothbrush each day that is a moist breeding ground for germs as it sits in your bathroom or muddy rucksack. [Editor's note: just this week, a major study has linked tooth/gum germs with circulation harmful clots that can cause heart attacks, and the risk from anti-biotic resistant diseases are rising--see the reports on the bottom of this page]

Soldier in WW2 shaving to enable an air-tight seal when wearing his gas mask.

While at home we should dip toothbrushes in mouthwash before brushing to kill germs; the field Soldier to too overburdened supplying himself in an ad hoc makeshift manner -- shampoo, soap, shaving cream, razors, toothbrush, toothpaste AND NOW MOUTHWASH TO STERILIZE HIS TOOTHBRUSH that robs him of mobility. Liquid mouthwash bottles are flimsy and leak. We know of no Soldiers who take mouthwash to the field, so the result is THEY USE DIRTY TOOTHBRUSHES. Does the Soldier have the time to go digging through his rucksack and assemble what he needs to brush his teeth and shave?

This disorganized manner of troop hygiene results in death or wounds from enemy fire as we move like slow turtles. Throughout history, more Soldiers have died from disease than combat wounds. This doesn't seem to be understood by the U.S. Army and marines who continue with the current ad hoc every-Soldier-for-himself approach to hygiene care.

We agree with U.S. Army CALL, that caring Commanders (like a Gavin, Ridgway, Chamberlain) should insist that their men get hygiene supplies but not by "Sundry Packs" and like institutional non-sense. They should instead insist that Natick mold a few grams of plastic to the end of the Meal-Ready-To-Eat (MRE) spoon to form a disposable toothbrush and shaving razor to SOLVE THE PROBLEM FROM THE GET-GO WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF MATERIAL. Whatever happened to the American wisdom of "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure"?. Completely sealed from germs, after eating, the spoon handle end with toothbrush bristles is used to clean teeth/gum and is disposed of with the empty MRE wrappers.


Micro-hygiene via a few grams of material

On the reverse side of the handle end are rails to accept a double-edged razor shaving cartridge (self-cleaning "button" with lubricating strip) so Paratroopers can maintain a smooth face for an airtight seal of the M40 field protective mask to defend against nuclear, biological, chemical agent attack.

Actual working prototype of the SPORK! Note the self-clean shaving cartridge and cap for the toothbrush

The Soldier need only supply a small pack of razors to attach to his BATTLESPORKTMs he gets from his MREs to the field. One pack of razors could last for days in the field via the self-cleaning feature and they can even be used without shaving cream via the lubricating strip/water.

To offset the minuscule grams of plastic added to the MRE spoon, plastic removed from the spoon itself makes "tines" so it's part fork and spoon to better retrieve MRE food from their pouches.

"Sporks" are common utensils if you eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken (military buzzword: KFC). Famous military author and photographer, Hans Halberstadt's father is the one who actually invented the spork in the 1930s while attending technical college in New Jersey. The MRE "BATTLESPORKTM" toothbrush/razor would add no weight to the Paratrooper but greatly simplify and reduce his load for almost zero cost to the Containerized, ready-to-fight U.S. Army. Furthermore, the toothbrush feature can be used to help clean weapons/equipment to insure they can fire at and kill the enemy if the issue cleaning kit is gone.

Potential multi-use waterless soap for the MRE

The MRE itself should come with a small packette of multi-use soap like Amway's Liquid Organic Cleaner (LOC) or IGA cosmetic's waterless "Apply & dry" that can be used as toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream, hand/body soap -- a little packette of liquid and a few grams of plastic can solve the Soldier's field hygiene needs, so why don't we supply them to our Soldiers?


U.S. Army Infantry Center & School and the Quartermaster Center & School says---MAYBE---there is hope. Years pass, nothing happens.


We print this article in the Fort Bragg POST with the help of Editor Kelly Tomita and the superb cartooning of Mark Baker to start a Soldier letter-writing campaign in to Natick to get a micro-hygiene capability built-in. Nadda.

Murphy needs a hygiene kit in his MRE, so do you!


The internet and the web page is just catching on, but we make one more try through "channels" with the "silver bullet" paper memorandum through the Army Ideas for Excellence (AIEP) program. Since most of the ideas in that program are rejected, you can conclude the Army isn't interested in much excellence.

Are you SURE we want troops responsible for their own hygiene devices?

Field shaving is a need not a luxury, without it your gas mask will not seal properly

Why are we forcing Soldiers to waste time and money buying their own hygiene products for the field when WE NEED THE MINMALIST ANSWER SUPPLIED TO THEM SO THEY CAN CARRY LESS WEIGHT AND BE MORE LOGISTICALLY SELF-SUFFIENT AS WELL AS LESS VULNERABLE TO GERMS? The following letters show the bogus excuses the smug Army bureaucratic assholes have offered to deny Soldiers a common sense micro-hygiene capability in the MRE. MREs come with toilet paper to clean up THAT end of the human body, why not a BATTLESPORKTM Spork-Toothbrush-Shaver for the top opening of the human body? More illogical hypocrisy from those who do not want to fight but like to play "From Here to Eternity" garrison games.

AIEP Rejecto-Gram


Infantry Center & School (USAICS)

Yeah, right. Panama was over in two days, Desert Storm in 100 hours. The nation-state war will be over long before the "sundry packs" arrive. Soldiers need a micro-hygiene capability built into the MRE so they can fight mobile war at 4-7 mph and not get shot like "clay pigeons" because they're moving like slugs with half of Wal-Mart's health/hygiene departments stuffed into their rucksacks. Of course, if we overstay our welcome an occupy someone else's country like Iraq, we can BRING THE PX OVER TO US to get the Soldier wasting his own money on hygiene devices...but hey? Why stop there? WHY NOT BRING GARRISON OVER, TOO SO WE CAN PLAY FROM "HERE TO ETERNITY" GAMES WHILE OVERSEAS?


But over the years, so far all U.S. Army Natick Labs has given us is excuses: the "spork" tines will puncture the MRE food pouches if an armored personnel carrier runs over MREs (This is for real! I'll dig up the the letter citing some obscure military specification) and hygiene "isn't our job, man" until after 30 days of hostilities when "combat sundry packs" will be delivered to front-line Soldiers. You can see their BS excuses to sit on their ass and do nothing about the Soldier's Load and preserve the failed status quo below in their actual letters.

All it takes is one Soldier to come home with a biological attack/delivered "super virus" during the few hours he was in combat, and we could have hundreds, thousands and even millions of dead Americans. Maybe the viral outbreak will start near Natick Labs and some of them can have a taste of their own non-medicine (disease) they allowed to arrive to our shores? The bureaucratic excuses are intolerable. If the U.S. Army says the Soldier is a "system" then it needs to start treating him as a holistic "system" --(whatever happened to "human being"?) field hygiene included---not "blown off" as yet another Soldier-fend-for-himself, too-bad-if-he-dies-"write-off". If some entrepreneur wants to mass-product the BATTLESPORKTM "spork toothbrush/razors" and mini-packets of Amway Loc, be my guest. I don't give a damn about money, I want to win, and take everyone along to enjoy the success. Smart Soldiers would buy them, though they should be supplied automatically, force-wide via MREs.

Lastly, the MRE has toilet paper -- so the excuse that "it isn't for hygiene" is more hypocrisy. Whatever the MRE dirties, it should clean. MREs with micro-hygiene capability would greatly assist starving, disease-ridden people in Third World Countries -- more lives saved from a little plastic.

The 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne) has already built and field-tested a prototype BATTLESPORKTM spork/toothbrush/razor depicted in the drawing above.

If you'd like to see the spork toothbrush/razor and multi-use
soap minipacket in MREs write to:

U.S. Army Soldier System
Command (Provisional), U.S. Army Natick RD&E Center,
1600 Kansas Street, Natick, MA 01760.
e-mail THEM! (Natick Labs)

Here's a gasser!

The Army now has an ENTIRE BUREAUCRACY dedicated to Soldier's Health concerns, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Wellness (USACHPPM)! Let's see if they have any real clout to get the rest of the Army to adopt an Honor Code, stop being brain-dead and sleepless, or employ better field hygiene devices or if they are just another "band-aid" agency full of non-threatening-to-the-bureaucracy "tips" that the weak, little Sheeple co-dependent has to do on his own to better "fit" and conform to the Army so it can remain corrupt and heavy-handed. We guess that USACHPPM will be like the Army Safety Center and look upon themselves as non-warrior "pussies" who "have no right to question how tactical operations are conducted" and other defeatist crap that gives them an excuse to sit-on-their-ass.




1. the acceptance of defeat as a foregone conclusion and the resultant failure to make an effort to succeed.

2. the views underlying acceptance of the frustration or thwarting of a goal, especially by the failure to prevent them. Cf. futilitarianism. - defeatist, n., adj.


"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

-- Francis of Assisi

However, we will give them a chance to go to bat for our Soldiers. The article below shows they have had some success with the Natick statusquo-ocracy by getting a bacteria-fighting Xylitol gum to replace the gum in MREs. Problem is Natick has already told us years ago that they were looking at gum as an excuse to reject the spork idea, ehh way to clean Soldier's teeth. The truth is Natick just doesn't want to do anything suggested by lower-ranking Soldiers that requires them to get off their ass and change, especially if it upsets their pet projects already underway. There are a few people in Natick that are pro-active about improved gear for our Soldiers and they know who they are and we have worked with them over the years to get results. However, the Army brass, the 3-star generals that run the Army and tell what Natick labs to do or not do, want the make-believe, garrison snobby class conscious mini-society they have created (that fails miserably in combat) to perpetuate and innovative things that empower the individual Soldier threatens them, since freed of wallowing in their own troubles they would then expect officials to start LEADING them in new, bold tactical directions. Better to have Soldiers bogged down in the dental facility having teeth removed by the bucket than learning how to operate a M113 Gavin track so we can avoid roadside bomb ambushes and win wars. The brass want the common Soldier bogged down with bullshit, they are easier to control and manipulate that way. Then when the time comes to get out of vulnerable trucks and into tracks, they have ready-made excuses like "we do not have the time" to be combat ready, or "the troops have this and the troops have that to do" so they can pose themselves off as some kind of great humanitarians that-give-a-shit-about-the-troops when they really don't. They want the comfortable non-warrior status quo full of sports PT in the morning to make everyone vain narcisso-egomaniacs, mowing lawns, kissing other's asses, filling out paperwork to stab other's in the back, doing change of command parades to continue at ALL costs. Anyone that dies from the BS status quo they can cover-up with a flag over the coffin and talk about what great heroes they were ("Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel") in typical patriotically correct fascism when really they were needless, tragic victims.

www.fit2bite.us/newsflash.html as


For more information, call 410-436-2088/800-222-9698/FAX 410-436-4784

For immediate release
PR 09-04AP
Mar. 3, 2004

MREs to contain xylitol gum to fight tooth decay

By Marcella Birk
Research Health Education
Directorate of Health Promotion and Wellness

Meals, Ready-to-eat (MREs) will soon contain gum that helps reduce tooth decay. The new gum, made with the alternative sweetener xylitol, works by blocking the bacteria that cause cavities. The gum currently provided in MREs contains sugar and can cause tooth decay.

This change in the MREs, approved by the 2004 Joint Services Operational Rations Forum, is partially due to a recent study showing a significant increase in tooth decay for deployed Soldiers. The 3rd Infantry Division, which deployed to Iraq for six months, returned home with more than two and a half times the number of cavities they had before deployment, according to a study conducted in January 2004.

"The amount of tooth decay that occurred in just six months was overwhelming," said Maj. Georgia dela Cruz, Public Health Dental Staff Officer at the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM) and lead for the 2004 study.

Col. Christine Inouye, Reserve Component Force Health Protection Integrator, and dela Cruz and, both of USACHPPM, were the driving force behind the change in the gum supplied in MREs. "We are convinced that this initiative will be one major solution to the dental readiness problem for the warfighters," said Inouye.

"Ultimately, the warfighters are at high risk for dental disease," Inouye said. "More importantly, the xylitol gum will potentially impact 2.68 million Active Component and Ready Reserve Soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen while they are deployed in a field environment."

"Deployed Soldiers are at greater risk for cavities because of starchy foods, sugary drinks, and infrequent tooth brushing," said dela Cruz. MREs contain carbohydrate-rich foods that are essential for energy in a field environment. Unfortunately, oral bacteria use the starches and sugars in these foods to produce acids that cause tooth decay. Xylitol blocks these bacteria, interfering with their ability to "stick" to the teeth to produce damaging acids. Xylitol also increases saliva flow, which helps neutralize any acids and provides calcium to repair any weakened areas of the teeth.

Col. Robert Lutka, Commander, Fort Benning Dental Activity, and Navy Capt. N. Blaine Cook, Specialty Leader for Operative Dentistry to U.S. Navy Surgeon General and the Chair of Operative Dentistry, Naval Postgraduate Dental School, are long-time advocates of xylitol.

"Xylitol has been used by diabetics for years as an alternative sweetener," said Lutka. "It's a safe and effective way to keep Soldiers healthy while deployed."

Due to the number of MREs already in stock, xylitol gum will not reach service members' MREs immediately but will be included within 18 to 24 months.

"Don't wait to start using xylitol gum," said dela Cruz. "The gum can be purchased on the local economy and at commissaries, although the choice of flavors may be limited at smaller commissaries. Read the ingredients on the label and make sure that xylitol is the first ingredient. Chewing the gum at least five minutes is extremely important for maximum effectiveness."

For more facts about xylitol, click on http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/dhpw/oralfitness/OralFitnessResourcesFactSheets.aspx

Dirty teeth may lead to heart attacks, U.S. study says

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Worried about a heart attack? You should exercise, eat right and keep your teeth clean, researchers said Monday.

The bacteria found in plaque can cause blood platelets to clump up -- the first stage toward a blood clot that could cause a heart attack or stroke, University of Minnesota researchers said.

Gum disease offers a good route for these bacteria to get into the blood, and several researchers have reported recently finding bacteria in the atherosclerotic plaque that clogs diseased arteries.

"We know a great deal about risk factors for atherosclerosis and heart attacks, but not the actual causes,'' Dr. Mark Herzberg, a professor of preventive sciences at the University of Minnesota, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His team took the germs found in dirty and diseased gums, including strains of Streptococcus and Porphyromonas bacteria, and infused them into rabbits. The blood platelets in the rabbits started to clump.

The rabbits also had abnormal electrocardiograms and faster heart and breathing rates. Using a different bacterium did not have these effects.

What is different about some of the bacteria found in plaque and gum disease is a protein they produce called platelet aggregation associated protein or PAAP. This could be the key to the problem, Herzberg said.

It has not been proved that the same thing happens in humans. Herzberg said he wants to test the unfortunate rabbits more to see if they suffer heart attacks when the bacteria are infused.

Health official warns of 'panic' over resurgence of diseases

February 18, 1998

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) -- The world faces panic amid the resurgence of diseases thought long-eradicated and the appearance of terrifying new ones, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO)said Tuesday.

"The whole world was living in the euphoria of thinking we had dominated all the infectious diseases and wouldn't have to deal with them any more," said WHO vice president Mirna Rose.

"Now we are experiencing panic over what may lie ahead," Rose told reporters during a visit to the Central American country of Honduras.

The health official said malaria and dengue fever were back with a vengeance while the Hanta virus and Ebola had caused hundreds of deaths, primarily on the African continent.

"Man's relation to the environment, migration and urbanization mean that infectious diseases arise every day, and not just ones we know," she said.



An Army Scout Sergeant writes:

"Since completing a field sanitation training course in Bosnia (I was starved for entertainment, alright?), I began to pay more attention to the subject of unit hygiene. Mostly what I noticed was that non-special operations units didn't seem to have any. My suggestion mirrored part of yours: place waterless antibacterial cleaner in every MRE. The wet wipes don't cut it, and the cleaner could be used for wound treatment as well. After hearing choruses of agreement from every senior NCO and officer I met (no one, NO ONE, ever said the idea was anything less than sensible), nothing.

I didn't know much about the system then, but does a Soldier need to be a political mastermind to get an idea anywhere?"

OUR REPLY: Yes, you have to be a political mastermind to get things done in DoD because what is best for victory in combat and helps the troops is NOT first priority to the milicrat. Look at the rucksacks our troops are toiling under in Afghanistan, problem can be solved today but we are not willing to pay-attention-to-detail, weigh our gear, get rid of what we dont need, find ways to do things lighter (like SPORKs) and get more transportation means. We haven't been shot at in awhile so its going to take some more casualties before we realize we must have better mobility, armor protection and firepower.

But we are learning, or are we?

The 1st TSG (A) Staff

Private Murphy's View

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