Turkey, ham, beef, eggnog and marshmallows have been prepositioned to provide a taste of home to U.S. troops on Thanksgiving Day, whether they're in Afghanistan or aboard ship in the Indian Ocean.
Getting the items to remote outposts in Afghanistan and other areas requires considerable planning, and the Defense Logistics Agency began in May, gathering holiday meal requirements from the services.
This year's totals for the holiday foodstuffs are down considerably from last year, reflecting the smaller numbers of troops still deployed in contingency areas.
For example, 15,202 pounds of turkey have been sent to Afghanistan — little more than half the 29,184 pounds sent there last year.
The combined turkey total for Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait is 51,699 pounds, down from the 467,499 pounds of turkey that was shipped to the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones in 2009.
This year, troops in Afghanistan will share 1,854 pies. Last year, 6,000 pies were sent.
But that doesn't mean they won't be complements to the turkey; they simply weren't requested by military units as part of their holiday orders, likely because the units had enough items in stock to take care of the Thanksgiving meals, according to Mike Tuttle, a spokesman for Defense Logistics Agency
Sweet potatoes must be in stock, because DLA sent plenty of marshmallows — 3,360 pounds to be split among troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait.
This year, 202 cases of stuffing were sent for troops deployed to Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait, but none went to Afghanistan; again, likely because units there didn't need to order more specifically for the holiday.
Figures provided by DLA for food going to troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait:
- 51,699 pounds of turkey
- 25,970 pounds of beef
- 17,130 pounds of ham
- 706 gallons of eggnog
- 3,360 pounds of marshmallows
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.