News: AAFES stores set up in remote locations
Story by Spc. Michael Adams
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – The Army and Air Force Exchange Service motto is "We go where you go." The company is living up to that philosophy by taking their services on the road to smaller bases in northern Iraq that didn't have access to AAFES facilities. So AAFES leadership in northern Iraq teamed up with Task Force Marne's G-1, Human Resources section, to give service members at remote locations the opportunities to pick up sweets and a few items to help them feel at home.
"We truly want to live by our motto," said Mark Polczynski of Russellville, Ark., and the AAFES general manager for northern Iraq. "That being said, we knew after establishing ourselves at the major [contingency operating bases], we needed to find a way of supporting the U.S. military troops in the remote or small [forward operating bases]".
So AAFES created mobile post exchanges that will go to the remote locations of northern Iraq so that all of the troops, regardless of where they were stationed, could have that luxury.
Currently, there are five mobile AAFES PXs servicing 8,000 troops in northern Iraq at approximately 15 different locations. The mobile PX visits the facilities approximately every two to three weeks and the facilities stay at the locations for three to five days.
"The mobile PX is a combat multiplier for supporting service members," said Capt. Ray Krieger, plans officer for TF Marne G-1, a Detroit native. "We bundle these mobile PXs with post offices and financial offices, so they can take care of financial issues and mail out packages."
Krieger was one of the leaders who worked with AAFES to make the mobile PXs a reality. He added that he has received nothing but positive feedback from Soldiers since the mobile PX began travelling in December.
All of this is designed to help those fighting in northern Iraq get a little relief from working in remote locations.
"It definitely increases morale," Krieger said. "They just don't have the same luxuries we have here at Speicher."
Aside from the personal hygiene items that warfighters need, the PX also sells magazines, DVDs, candy bars and other items to give troops a little bit of home.
"These items seem very insignificant until you have spent a few months out at some of these remote sites," said Polczynski. "When you don't have these things for awhile, then they become special."
The mobile PXs have been so successful that AAFES is planning an additional two that will be in service in the near future.