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
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