German EPA

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In 1870 the Prussian Military issued the first “iron ration” into the military (during the German-French war).  This was a pea soup concentrate called (in German) “Erbswurst” due to its shape like a sausage (“Wurst”). It has been in production for almost 150 years but was discontinued in 2018.


Since WW2, West Germany’s “Bundeswehr” (West German Army) uses a ration called the Einmannpackung (Combat Ration, Individual), or “EPa” for short. Each case contains four rations and each EPa is intended to provide food for 24 hrs with two entrees and a continental breakfast.

EPa 1979 Case EPa 1979 Case opened EPa 1979 opened

East Germany’s military, the “Nationale Volks Armee” (NVA) also had a 24 hrs ration, called “K-ration” from the Russian word “Komplekte” (комплект).

Each case holds four rations. They only had two different rations – “K1” and “K2”.

K-Portion Case K-Portion 1 & 2 K-Portion open K-Portion contents

After the end of the Cold War and Germany’s reunification in 1990,  the East German Military was terminated and all left over Komplekte were sent into Russia for an aid program or just dumped.

During Cold War time area, EPas were designed for a shelf life of 20 (!) years. West Germany had always stored 600,000 rations to provide rations to the troops for 30 days. They came in four “Types”, I to IV (note the Roman numerals). Each case held four EPa’s.

Karton a1 Karton alt2

When the two Germanys reunited 1990, the Bundeswehr felt that there would no longer be any need to stockpile rations so they started phasing them out. Shortly after that, in 1993, Germany was called upon for UN Peacekeeping duties and the German planners had to revive the rations for the troops. During this revival, they settled back into having three EPa Types I to III.

German EPA case German EPA ration meal and contents German EPA contents German EPA heavy duty foil tray

Each EPa has two heavy duty, square foil trays containing things like Green Beans with Ham, Italian Noodles, Goulash, or Pea Soup with Bacon. They also contain two smaller foil “cans” of bread spreads such as liverwurst or luncheon meat spread. The meal box also includes all water proof sweet crackers (“armor sheets”), instant fruit juice powder, instant coffee, instant tea, powdered creamer, a really good chocolate bar, sugar, salt, gum, jam, water purifying tablets and paper towels.

Open German EPA package German EPA contents

When going into war in Afghanistan in 2001, the Germans had to change their philosophy from “to-store” rations into “to-eat” rations. Also a wider variety of just three different types were necessary.

So the Verpflegungsamt (Quartermaster) created a new EPa generation with now 19 different Types. The entrees were nearly commercial trays but also had freeze dried entrees. Each case came now with six EPas:

Karton neu 1 Karton neu 2

An “Afghanistan” EPa (left) compared to a Cold War one (right):


The entrees came now a rectangular container with a shelf life of only 3.5 years but with a much wider selection. An EPa also now contains a “snack” of either a fruit salad or a sweet semolina dish, just one pack of sweet crackers, and a can of sliced rye bread. They also contained smaller containers of pate, cheese, and jam for continental breakfast. They kept the beverage powders, coffee, tea, sugar, salt, creamer, water purifying tablets,  water proof matches, and moist towelette.

Old and new entree containers of “Goulash w/ potatoes”:

Goulash w/ Potatoes

In 2012, they switched to Arabic numbers 1-12. EPas come now like this (Type 1):

EPa Type 1 new - 1 EPa Type 1 new - 2 EPa Type 1 new - 3 EPa Type 1 new - 4 EPa Type 1 new - 5 EPa Type 1 new - 6 EPa Type 1 new - 7

Regular entree trays, mixed with freeze dried dishes. Cereal bars and spreads. Different coffee/tea packages. New beverage powders:

EPa 123 EPa 2012 Menus

Other EPa Types (13-19) were discontinued.

EPa Neu 1 EPa Neu 2 EPa Neu 3
In Afghanistan, the German military had to learn you can’t carry always a couple of days food supply with your equipment as each EPa has a weight of ~1,7kg (3.8 lbs). So they issued a freeze dried long range patrol version called “EPa leicht” (EPa “light”).

An EPa leicht box (left) compared to a regular EPa:

EPa-leicht9 EPa-leicht10

Each EPa leicht holds 8 freeze dried entrees for either 4 soldiers for a day (lunch & dinner) or for one soldiers for four days

EPa-leicht-contents EPa-leicht3 EPa-leicht6

It comes with rich trekking bars, energy drinks, beverages, coffee and tea, lots of sugar and creamers, matches and salt, vitamin supplements, etc.

EPa entrees :

Beef patties w/ tomato sauce:

epa-beef-patties-sauce-1 epa-beef-patties-sauce-2 epa-beef-patties-sauce-3

Goulash w/ potatoes:

goulash-potatoes-2 goulash-potatoes-3

Cevapcici w/ rice:

Cevapcici w/Rice 1 Cevapcici w/Rice 2 Cevapcici w/Rice 3

Freeze dried entree:

Beef, beans and potatoes:

Beef, Beans, & Potatoes 1 Beef, Beans, & Potatoes 2 Beef, Beans, & Potatoes 3

Latest Menus

Here are the latest EPa Type 1-12 Menus:

EPa Menu Type 1 EPa Menu Type 2 EPa Menu Type 3 EPa Menu Type 4 EPa Menu Type 5 EPa Menu Type 6 EPa Menu Type 7 EPa Menu Type 8 EPa Menu Type 9 EPa Menu Type 10 EPa Menu Type 11 EPa Menu Type 12

Here is a link to the old German EPa page.