During World War II, British soldiers resentful of American troops who they thought had too much money and too much pull with British women, christened the GIs some variation of “overpaid, overfed, oversexed, and over here.”* According to the USA Today, the second of those seems to becoming more true today:

The number of troops diagnosed as overweight or obese has more than doubled since the start of the Iraq war, yet another example of stress and strains of continuing combat deployments, according to a recent Pentagon study.

Nor is this the first report on such a weight gain. The Chicago Tribune reported last year that the “Iraq 20” was the military’s equivalent of the “freshman 15.” Soldiers at bases in Iraq could choose from:

Barbecue ribs, fried chicken, rib-eye steak, lobster tails, crab legs, roast turkey, stir-fry, cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, egg rolls, breaded shrimp, buffalo wings, chili, crepes, pancakes, omelets, waffles, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, quiches, bacon, polish sausages, pulled pork, corned beef hash, milk shakes and smoothies — and that’s just for starters.

Historically, soldiers usually lose weight on deployment, so this is an impressive reversal. Besides the health issues, it points to one of the enduring American military strengths, that of logistics. Starting in WWII, the U.S. has been markedly better than any other world power at sending its military power–people, equipment, and supplies–abroad and far away. The “Arsenal of Democracy” of WWII was not only able to build the weapons and equipment, it was able to transport them as well, and that has never changed. In a war like Iraq, which is less about material consumption than WWII, the result has been a logistics systems able not only to deliver the food necessary but over-deliver it.

*The American response? The British were “underpaid, undersexed, and under Eisenhower.”

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