In One of the Most Austere Locations, New Exchange Opens at the Tip of the Spear

A crowd of shoppers gather outside the new Exchange at Union III in Iraq.

 

The Exchange recently expanded its service to troops at the tip of the spear by moving into new, centrally located digs at Union III in Baghdad, Iraq.

The new store is not much bigger than the old one, but a better layout provides more stockroom space to speed up replenishment of popular products, such as energy drinks, smokeless tobacco, muscle supplements, and snack items like beef jerky, nuts and seeds. The Exchange first opened at Union III in May 2015.

“This new operation further expands our support at the tip of the spear in one of our most austere locations, where the taste of home that the Exchange team delivers means so much to our Warfighters,” said Jason Rosenberg, senior vice president of the Europe/Southwest Asia Region.

More centrally located store

Located at Union III, the U.S. Army’s Combined Joint Operations Center—Baghdad brings together American and coalition troops together for Operation Inherent Resolve, which helps Iraqi security forces in their conflict with ISIS.

Store Manager Suraj Tamang receives a certificate of appreciation from installation commanders at the  store’s grand opening.

Manager Suraj Tamang, his associates and their store is part of the Exchange’s new location in the center of the installation. North End Pizza and Green Beans coffee shop are located next door to the Exchange, while a beauty and barber shop, plus a Popeyes restaurant, are slated to open across from the store. Concessionaires can now take credit and debit card.

The store is  easier for customers to reach, compared to the old location on the other side of the camp. The foot traffic doubled, from 250 customers at the old store to at least 490 on the day the new store opened, said Kristine Cowley, the Exchange’s general manager in Iraq.

Store brings special significance

For some troops at Union III, the new store has special significance.

“Unofficially, we dubbed this new complex ‘Freedom Crossing Express, presented by Union III’ because camp command is deployed out of Fort Bliss, Texas, home of the Exchange’s original Freedom Crossing,” said Phil Tinsley, region vice president for contingency.

On eight installations In Iraq, the Exchange operates eight Exchanges, five barber shops, five restaurants, four telecom outlets and one alterations shop to serve American troops and others aiding the Iraqi Army. Four more restaurants are scheduled to open soon, Tinsley said.

Iraq General Manager Kristine Cowley, far left, joins the Union III Exchange staff, left to right, Ayoush Tamang, Suraj Tamang, Ryan Nagano, Manpreet Singh, Katherine Maison, Jerome Mijaresh and Albert Cozo.

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