As if there weren’t enough reasons to love U.S. General David Petraeus, now there’s this news out of Afghanistan:
Nearly a year after fast-food joints were tossed off U.S.-led coalition bases, Pizza Hut made a comeback last week, reopening at Camp Phoenix on the edge of Kabul. The restaurant-really just a takeout trailer-“fired up its ovens and opened its doors to anxious service members wanting a ‘taste of home,’ ” declared a statement from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. The press release included fuzzy snapshots of smiling soldiers digging into fresh pizza.
Another Pizza Hut will soon be opening at Bagram Air Field northeast of Kabul, alongside one of the other once-exiled fast-food franchises, a Burger King, U.S. Forces said.
The return of fast-food outlets is the latest sign of the changes made by U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, who took over command of U.S. and coalition forces in June 2010. Most have dealt with far weightier matters: relaxing rules of engagement for troops, increasing airstrikes and the tempo of secretive Special Operations missions to kill or capture insurgent commanders, and striking new alliances with controversial warlords.
But few of Gen. Petraeus’s changes will likely prove as popular with the troops as the return of fast food. U.S. soldiers and Marines are a young bunch, many of them raised around the ever-present fast-food outlets of America. Nearly all are eager to complain about how quickly mess-hall fare, provided by defense contractors, gets old.
That last paragraph states that these young soldiers like fast food because they grew up on it and that the mess hall fare gets old. But what I suspect they like more is variation and familiarity. These kids didn’t only eat fast food, they ate food with their families that their moms prepared for them (ahem…sorry, or their dad prepared for them).
Why not privatize all food services in the military? Let companies bid on bringing food to the troops. Likely the food they serve will be a lot better than the institutional fare served by the military and it will also be more varied and dare I say, nutritional. I understand there will be limits and some military-run food services will still need to exist. But for many of the men serving, a little taste of familiarity seems to be a morale boost.