Army and Air Force Exchange Service

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Army & Air Force Exchange Service
Type Department store, Government agency
Industry Retail
Founded 1895
Headquarters Dallas, Texas, United States
Products base exchanges
department stores
Employees 38,000
Parent United States Department of Defense

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense. Its dual missions are to provide quality merchandise and services of necessity and convenience to authorized customers at uniform low prices, and to generate reasonable earnings to supplement appropriated funds for the support of United States Army and Air Force Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. The Exchange is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and its Director/Chief Executive Officer is Tom Shull. The Navy operates the equivalent Navy Exchange (NEX), while the Marine Corps operates the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and the United States Coast Guard operates the Coast Guard Exchange (CGX).

Mission and Structure[edit]

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's enduring mission is to make the lives of Soldiers and Airmen better through the goods and services offered. The Exchange goes where Soldiers, Airmen and their familes go to improve their quality of life through retail goods and services. Exchange earnings provide dividends to support morale, welfare and recreation programs. The Exchange is part of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors, responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force through the Chiefs of Staff. This year, the Exchange celebrated 119 years of service.

The Exchange is charged with generating reasonable earnings, but returns roughly two-thirds of its net earnings to its customer base through their respective MWR programs ([1]). The only congressionally appropriated money spent in the Exchange comes in the form of utilities and transportation of merchandise to overseas exchanges and for salaries of U.S. military personnel assigned to the Exchange. A non-appropriated fund instrumentality (NAFI) of the Department of Defense, the Exchange funds 98% of its operating budget, including civilian employee salaries, inventory investments, utilities and capital investments for equipment, vehicles and facilities, from the sale of merchandise, food and services to customers.

Roughly 70% of the Exchange earnings are paid to MWR programs.[1] In the last ten years, more than $2.24 billion has been contributed by the Exchange to the Army and Air Force to spend on quality of life improvements for Soldiers, Airmen and their families—Youth Services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, arts and crafts, aquatic centers, post functions and golf courses.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the Exchange earned $332 million from direct sales (retail, food, and vending/services), finance revenue, and concessions on revenues of $7.8 billion.[2] MWR and services programs received $208.3 million, which was distributed as follows:

  • U.S. Army, $116.5 million
  • U.S. Air Force, $69.4 million
  • U.S. Marine Corps, $19.2 million
  • U.S. Navy, $3.2 million

The per capita dividend in 2013 was $211 for every Soldier and Airman.

In addition to funding MWR programs, the Exchange earnings are used to build new stores or renovate existing facilities without expense to the federal government. Funds to construct these new or replacement facilities come entirely from sales of merchandise and services.

Military & Family Support[edit]

When military members deploy to remote locations around the world, the Exchange is with them, offering products and services to bring troops a taste of home. Since 9/11, more than 4,385 Exchange associates have deployed. Other Exchange support last year included outfitting 1.3 million troops with combat uniforms, serving 4 million school lunches to their children and operating 7 plants providing baked goods and bottled water to overseas bases. Any American can support military members worldwide by sending gift cards through the Exchange by logging on to or calling 800-527-2345.

Family Serving Family[edit]

OnThe Exchange is a major employer of military families. Approximately 24 percent of the Exchange's nearly 36,000 associates are military family members; 10 percent are veterans; and 2 percent are active duty, Guard or Reserve personnel working part-time in Exchanges during their off-duty hours. In 2014, the Exchange was named the No. 1 employer of military spouses by Victory Media, publisher of Military Spouse magazine.


Online at, the Exchange offers products in every catagory and the same national brand merchandise found in brick-and-mortar stores. The Exchange's online assortment is updated continually, offering convenience for those who don't live near a military installation. Online shoppers pay no sales tax and enjoy free delivery when using a Military Star Card or when their online purchases total $49 or more.

Facilities Worldwide[edit]

The Exchange is responsible for more than 2,448 facilities in more than 26 countries, 50 states and five U.S. territories. Facilities include 127 main stores, 167 Military Clothing stores, 492 convenience stores (troop stores, Express locations, Class Six outlets) 169 specialty stores and 67 theaters. The Exchange has more than 1,418 quick-serve restaurants such as Taco Bell, Burger King and Starbucks as well as 3,330 concession operations. The Exchange operates 48 contingency locations in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Who The Exchange Serves[edit]

The Exchange not only supports active-duty service members, but also military retirees and families. In fact, 54 percent of Exchange customers are military family members; 19 percent are retirees; 9 percent are Guardsman/Reservists and 6 percent are civilians.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]