Army and Air Force Exchange Service

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Army & Air Force Exchange Service
Department store, Government agency
Industry Retail
Founded 1895
Headquarters 3911 S. Walton Walker Blvd. Dallas, Texas, 75236 United States
Number of locations
2,440 (all facilities)
Key people
Tom Shull, Director/CEO
  • Increase US$ 9.2 billion (2014)[1]
  • Increase US$ 8.3 billion (2013)[2]
Number of employees
Parent United States Department of Defense
Slogan "We Go Where You Go"

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) or “AAFES,” is the retailer on U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide. The Exchange is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and its Director/Chief Executive Officer is Tom Shull.

The oldest and the largest of the Department of Defense’s exchange services, the Exchange operates department stores, convenience stores, restaurants, movie theaters and an Internet shopping site to serve soldiers, airmen and their families. In addition to U.S. bases in Germany, Italy, England, Turkey, South Korea and Japan, the Exchange operates stores for U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in the region. The Exchange ensures soldiers and airmen have access to U.S. goods and services, wherever they serve.

In addition to their retail support for the military, the Exchange also outfits troops with combat uniforms at cost, and serves school lunches for children attending Department of Defense Schools overseas.


Soldiers take a break at a post exchange in this 1914 photo.

The first exchanges were established on July 25, 1895, when the War Department issued General Orders Number 46 directing post commanders to establish an exchange at every post.[3] Before the formation of the Exchange Service, U.S. military forces purchased provisions from bands of peddlers known as sutlers who followed the army.

The Army Exchange Service was formally established in 1941, and became the Army & Air Force Exchange Service in 1948 following the formation of the Air Force.

Since its establishment, the Exchange has been involved in 14 major military operations (to include World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) as well as several dozen humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies.

Structure and funding[edit]

Part of the Department of Defense, the Exchange is directed by a Board of Directors responsible to the secretaries of the Army and Air Force through the Chiefs of Staff. As a non-appropriated fund activity, the Exchange self-funds 97 percent of its operations, with revenue coming from the sale of goods and services. The majority of the 3 percent in appropriated funds is used to fund overseas operations.[4]


Exchange earnings provide dividends to support military Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. In fiscal 2014, the Exchange had revenue of $9.2 billion and $373 million in earnings. About two-third of those earnings – $224 million – were paid to Army MWR and Air Force Services programs.[5] In the past 10 years, the Exchange has distributed more than $2.4 billion for MWR to fund quality-of-life improvements.[6] The remaining one-third of earnings are mostly used to fund new facility construction and maintenance at no cost to the federal government.


The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Main Store on Fort Belvoir, VA.

The Exchange operates approximately 2,440 facilities, including main stores, convenience stores, military clothing stores and theaters, across 50 U.S. states and 33 countries. Additionally, the Exchange has more than 1,400 quick-serve restaurants such as Taco Bell, Burger King, Popeyes, Subway and Starbucks as well as over 3,300 concession operations.[7] Authorized patrons of the Exchange include Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard, retired members of the U.S. uniformed services, honorably discharged veterans when hospitalized or certified 100% disabled by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and their dependents by the presentation of the U.S. Uniformed Services Privilege and Identification Card.[8]

Modern base and post exchanges provide tax-free goods - including name brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, and Ralph Lauren - to authorized shoppers. In addition, some Exchanges host concession malls with a variety of vendors and storefronts.

In November 2010, the Exchange unveiled Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss, a $100 million outdoor mall anchored by a 217,000-square-foot Exchange Main Store and including a children's play area, outdoor dining patios, shaded landscaped areas, outdoor seating, an outdoor fireplace, an interactive fountain, a lawn for community events and concerts, and more than 40 storefronts and restaurants. The mall is the first of its kind on a United States armed services base.[9][10]


The Exchange employs nearly 35,500 associates worldwide in the United States, Europe, the Pacific and the Middle East. Of these, about 26 percent are military spouses or dependents, 10 percent are veterans and 2 percent are active duty, reserves and the national guard.[11] In 2015, the Exchange ranked No. 71 in Victory Media’s Top 100 list of Military Friendly employers.[12] In all, about 88 percent of the Exchange’s associates are connected in some way to the military.[13]

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 4,400 Exchange associates have deployed to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to support troops in combat operations.[14] The Exchange currently operates 49 stores in contingency zones in countries such as Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Bosnia and Kosovo.[15]

Military Star Card[edit]

The Exchange also operates and funds the Exchange Credit Program (ECP), a program established by Congress in 1979 to protect service members from predatory lending and offer responsible credit solutions to customers.

The Exchange Credit Program’s Military Star Card counts approximately 2 million cardholders from all branches of service, including qualified dependents, among its members. The Exchange Credit Program markets Military Star as the “one card solution” for all purchases made on military installations. Like the Exchange, the Exchange Credit Program contributes a significant portion of its earnings to morale, welfare and recreation programs, furnishing $639 million to MWR programs over the last 10 years.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Army & Air Force Exchange Service 2014 Annual Report" (PDF). The Army & Air Force Exchange Service. July 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Army & Air Force Exchange Service 2013 Annual Report" (PDF). The Army & Air Force Exchange Service. June 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Exchange - About Exchange - Public Affairs - Press Releases". 
  4. ^ "Exchange Quick Facts". Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Exchange - About Exchange - Exchange Quick Facts". 
  7. ^ "Exchange Quick Facts". Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Exchange - Exchange Stores - Authorized Patrons". 
  9. ^ Avila, Celina (05 November 2010). "More New Mall Opens On Fort Bliss". KVIA TV. Retrieved 29 January 2016.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Poe, David (28 October 2010). "AAFES commander Casella said Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss ready to shine Nov. 5". Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "The Exchange - About Exchange - Exchange Quick Facts". 
  12. ^ "Top 100". Military Friendly. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "Exchange By the Numbers". Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  14. ^ "Exchange By the Numbers". Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Exchange - About Exchange - Exchange Quick Facts". 
  16. ^ "About ECP". Exchange Credit Program. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 

External links[edit]