air force exchange

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is a joint-service military organization serving both the Army and Air Force. Its worldwide headquarters is in Dallas, Texas.


The Army and Air Force Exchange Service has two primary missions. One is to provide quality merchandise and services to active duty, National Guard, reserve members, military retirees and their family members, at uniformly low prices. The second is to generate reasonable earnings for the support of Army morale, welfare and recreation and Air Force service programs. AAFES is almost entirely self-supporting.


On each post or base, a general manager is responsible for all AAFES facilities on the installation. Of the more than 68,000 AAFES employees worldwide, 48 percent are military family members. Although a military organization, AAFES has only 81 assigned military personnel.

Facilities and Resources

AAFES operates more than 12,000 activities, including: retail stores, catalog services, bookstores, class six package stores, concessions, food facilities, florists, gas stations and auto repair, laundry and dry cleaners, barber and beauty shops, military clothing sales stores, movie theaters, vending centers and video rental.

Sales in fiscal year 1993 totalled $7.7 billion. Contributions to Army morale, welfare and recreation and Air Force services funds were $212.3 million. Over the past 10 years, AAFES payments to these funds have totalled more than $1.7 billion.

The Army and Air Force spent this money on quality of life improvements for soldiers, airmen and their families.


The commander is a general officer responsible to a board of directors that is established by the secretaries of the Army and Air Force. Subordinate commands control operations in Europe (Zirndorf, Germany) and the Pacific Rim (Okinawa, Japan).

Nine region directors in the continental United States control store operations from the AAFES Operations Center, also located in Dallas.


During the American Revolution, the military did not issue personal items such as soap, razors, and tobacco to soldiers. However, peddlers -- called sutlers -- followed the Army and sold merchandise, most of it inferior.

Because of its corruption, traders authorized to sell merchandise at each post replaced the sutler system in 1867. By 1889, the War Department authorized canteens, putting traders out of business.

On July 25, 1895, General Order No. 46 set the standard for the concept and mission of today's exchange service. Eventually, independent operations evolved at Army divisional levels. Large posts, with little or no direction from higher headquarters, established a post exchange to serve their unit.

Post commanders decided how to spend earnings. The system remained basically unchanged until 1941, when the War Department established the Army Exchange

Service to provide broad guidance for worldwide operations. When the Air Force became a separate service, the exchange became a joint operation. In 1948, the organization became the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

Point of Contact

Army and Air Force Exchange Service
Public Affairs Office; P.O. Box 660202; Dallas, Texas 75266

DSN 967-3865 or (214) 312-9865

June, 1994





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