The Navy will soon be barred from punishing grunts with bread-and-water diet

Photo: Eskemar (iStock)

On January 1, high-ranking Naval commanders will no longer be permitted to use one of the punitive tools previously at their disposal: a bread-and-water-only diet. According to NavyTimes, under rules signed by the Obama administration and amended by the Trump administration that go into effect in the new year, skippers can no longer punish lower-ranking service members with a 3-day confinement and bread-and-water diet.

Per the legislation, called the Military Justice Act of 2016: “Article 15, as amended, would retain the wide range of punishments available to commanders to address misconduct through non-judicial proceedings, while precluding punishment in the form of a diet consisting only of bread and water.”

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The NavyTimes reports that yes, this actually happens: “Bread and water had for decades been an arcane disciplinary tool at the disposal of commanding officers at sea.” The article notes this affected service members on the lowest three tiers of the enlisted pay scale.

Food, of course, has long been used as a punitive measure in prisons. Nutraloaf—or merely the threat of being fed Nutraloaf—is used as a deterrent to bad behavior in correctional facilities. The brick officially consists of “shredded cabbage, grated carrots, dry pinto beans, mechanically separated poultry, dairy blend, soy oil, scrambled-egg mix, and 24 slices of bread,” shaped into a loaf and baked for 50-70 minutes.

In addition to banning the bread-and-water diet, the Military Justice Act of 2016 makes changes to how criminal behavior is handled by the armed forces, including protecting whistleblowers, updating the handling of sexual crimes, and clarifying rules about cruelty to animals.

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Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.