By Army Spc. Aaron Rosencrans
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 11, 2008 - Through the efforts of a Multinational Division Baghdad soldier, deployed troops can once again enjoy fresh eggs as one of their breakfast options after the nutritious staple was banned from Iraq for a year. After receiving a plethora of requests from soldiers and the command group, Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sabrina Nero, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., took it upon herself to find a way to once again get fresh eggs on the menu; Nero serves as Multinational Division Baghdad's command food advisor with the 4th Infantry Division's Company B, Special Troops Battalion.
"When the 4th Infantry Division got here, everyone, including the command staff, was wondering where the eggs were, so I went to find out why there were no eggs here," Nero said.
Nero immediately got a copy of a memorandum banning fresh eggs that originated in Kuwait after a bird flu outbreak in March 2007.
"I read the memorandum from the State Department and found a technicality that would allow eggs back into Iraq," she explained. "The technicality was the Iraqi government didn't want poultry products shipped into Iraq that had originated from Kuwait. If it originated in Kuwait, that meant we couldn't get the product."
She said she noticed the letter never said soldiers couldn't have eggs; it stated the eggs couldn't come from Kuwait.
Nero wondered where else she could procure eggs, since Kuwait was off limits.
"I went and talked to the food safety officer, and she gave me a list of all the approved sources where we could source eggs outside of Kuwait," she said.
Nero then pieced together the paperwork for a proposal to crack open alternative sources of fresh eggs and poultry from other countries surrounding Iraq. She submitted a proposal to her chain of command for approval from Army Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, commanding general of U.S. Army Central and Coalition Forces Land Component Command.
Nero said there was some hesitation as to whether or not to accept the proposal, because all food products were shipped through Kuwait; but in the end, she got a green light from all levels, and eggs began to roll into Iraq.
To her surprise, her efforts affected not only Iraq, but also Afghanistan and other neighboring countries where U.S. troops are stationed.
"Since the military houses its food in Kuwait, eggs became available for all soldiers in southwestern Asia," she said. "All it took was one person to stand up and point out the technicality. We were just the ones to push the issue."
Soldiers seemed to appreciate the new addition to the breakfast menu at the Ironhorse Sports Oasis.
"I was already eating breakfast every day, but now that they got real eggs, it makes it even better," said Army Pfc. Manuel Silvas, a native of Houston, a generator repair specialist with the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion. "The eggs give me more motivation to wake up in the morning and get some chow."
Army Spc. Benjamin Heath, a native of Overland Park, Kan., and regular breakfast eater, said he is happy he can now add eggs to his morning routine. Heath, who ordered three eggs over medium, serves as an administrator with the inspector general, Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division.
Nero said soldiers can rest easy if there's an outbreak of bird flu at one of the suppliers.
"Even in the event there is a producer who has an outbreak of the bird flu or has some sort of health issue with their products, there are other facilities we can procure our eggs from," she said. "This way, we won't have an interruption in our supply of poultry products from neighboring countries."
Aside from the recent addition of eggs to the menu, Nero said, she had another project on the table for soldiers this summer, and she was willing to share the inside scoop.
"The menu board meeting begins this month, and we're working to bring sherbet back to Baghdad," she said. "The sherbet should be available by this summer if all goes well. There has been a great demand for a low-calorie alternative to ice cream, so I've been working to bring this back for soldiers who want to eat something sweet, but don't want all the calories."
With Nero's time in Iraq coming to a close, she said she feels she can leave country knowing she accomplished something good for the soldiers.
"I'm just happy I'm leaving knowing the soldiers got their fresh eggs," she said. "It goes to show if you want something done, all you need to do is raise your voice, and it will happen."
(Army Spc. Aaron Rosencrans serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)