Exchange Delivers a Lifeline for Soldiers Supporting NATO Mission in Poland
BEMOWO PISKIE TRAINING AREA, Poland — For NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Poland, reminders of home are close at hand thanks to a 53-foot-long Exchange trailer parked on the installation.
Since late March, the mobile field exchange (MFE) has brought cold drinks, microwavable meals and supplies—even TVs and Xboxes—to U.S. Soldiers with Battle Group Poland just 100 miles from the Russian border.
Sending visible signal
The U.S.-led multinational battle group, one of four combat-ready groups in Eastern Europe, strengthens NATO’s posture of deterrence and defense while sending a visible signal that an attack against one ally is an attack against all.
While the Exchange has MFEs and troop stores for Soldiers as the Army’s mission expands throughout Eastern Europe, the BPTA trailer is the only one serving U.S. troops supporting a NATO mission.
“The Exchange’s service at the tip of the spear represents the very best of what we do,” said Director/CEO Tom Shull. “We are all in to support Soldiers serving with NATO’s Battle Group Poland to ensure they remain ready and resilient. Familiar products and a warm smile can make home seem not so far away.”
‘A little piece of home’
Spc. Noah Campbell, who has been at BPTA for three months, appreciates the familiar products as he stops by the MFE daily for drinks and snacks.
“If I’m going out to the field for a couple days, I’ll stock up so I can have stuff I can snack on if I get tired of MREs (meals ready to eat),” Campbell said. “Thank you to all the people who put this together so we can have a little piece of home. It makes us feel better.”
“The Exchange’s service at the tip of the spear represents the very best of what we do.”
–Director/CEO Tom Shull
For Lt. Matthew Medlin, who’s been away from his home near Washington, D.C., for almost a year, energy drinks and tuna are his lifelines back to the States.
“The Exchange has been a real morale booster,” Medlin said. “The guys are able to get a lot of things that they couldn’t get on the economy here—things that remind them of home. It’s really nice having the Exchange follow us.”
Besides offering drinks, snacks and supplies, the Exchange operates a barber shop in a tent across from the MFE.
“If we couldn’t come here, we’d be practicing on each other,” said Sgt. Ian Vincent. “We’d be looking
Xboxes, TVs and ear protection
The five Exchange associates work hard to meet Soldiers’ needs. If troops can’t find what they need, team leader Mickeal Jenkins can special order merchandise from Grafenwoehr, Germany.
“A couple of months ago, a customer asked for an Xbox,” Jenkins said. “I made sure with Command that it was OK, and he said it was perfectly fine, and I was able to bring some in. Customers have requested TVs—and that’s an item we now keep in the store.”
2nd Lt. David Truong knows the personal service that Jenkins and his team provide. Jenkins ordered additional ear protection after Truong’s was destroyed in the field.
Truong also appreciates the MFE’s comforts of home—chips, tuna and cream soda.
“We know that behind every Soldier, there are 10 more people supporting us,” Truong said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”