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DoD’s oldest, largest exchange service to mark 112 years of service

DALLAS -- The War Department issued General Order number 46  directing post commanders to establish an exchange at every post where practicable on July 25, 1895.

As the Army & Air Force Exchange Service marks its 112th birthday, the military command's mission remains basically the same: provide quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support morale, welfare and recreation programs.

No matter where military members serve, AAFES continues to provide a comprehensive and customer - focused benefit. 

In addition to its flagship main base and post exchange facilities, AAFES operates convenience stores, car care centers, military clothing sales stores, fast food restaurants, retail concession services like flower shops and gift stores, vending, telecommunications support and a wide variety of personal services through more than 3,100 facilities in 31 countries, five U.S. territories and 49 states.

Just like the merchants who supplied provisions to America's troops in the late 1800s, AAFES associates continue to live and work alongside those they serve. 

In fact, more than 400 AAFES associates are currently deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, actively delivering a slice of Americana to troops through 53 BX/PX operations, 72 phone centers and 193 fast food restaurants scattered throughout the region.

Whiteman Air Force Base joined in commemorating the anniversary with a cake cutting ceremony and plenty of great sales in the store, said Becky Stover, Whiteman BX manager.

With a rich history comes a promising future of an even stronger exchange benefit. As the largest and most senior exchange service of the uniformed services, AAFES continues to seek efficiencies and initiatives that will improve the customer's shopping experiences.

"We are focusing on building communities where shoppers feel an emotional attachment and a sense of place," said Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton, AAFES' senior enlisted adviser. "By working with installation planners and all relevant DoD stakeholders, we are focused on bolstering AAFES' ability to positively impact military recruitment and retention."

Since its establishment in 1895, AAFES has been involved in 14 major contingencies (to include the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) and several dozen humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies.

(Staff Sgt. Rob Hazelett contributed to this article)