Operation Allies Welcome: How Exchange Regions are Supporting Installations’ Afghan Guests on Journey to U.S.  

Afghan guests look at new clothes to buy at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service store at Fort Bliss’ Dona Aña Complex in New Mexico on Sept. 17. The Exchange’s presence at the site is part of the effort to improve quality of life for the guests. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Maxwell Bass, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)

Afghan guests look at new clothes to buy at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service store at Fort Bliss’ Dona Aña Complex in New Mexico on Sept. 17. The Exchange’s presence at the site is part of the effort to improve quality of life for the guests. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Maxwell Bass, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)

Exchanges around the world are doing their part to take care of Afghan guests staying at U.S. installations during Operation Allies Welcome (OAW).

With help from Exchange headquarters, local commands and vendor partners, Exchanges are offering clothing, shoes, blankets, children’s toys, snacks, mobile phone accessories, hygiene products and other essentials as guests complete the necessary steps for resettlement in the United States.

“When it comes to delivering the comforts of home to support the U.S. mission at a moment’s notice, no other retailer can do what the Exchange does,” said Roger Neumann, Vice President of Contingency Plans. “From bringing in extra associates to meet demand at locations supporting OAW to quickly engaging local vendors to bring concessions and food trucks on site, the teams have done an outstanding job supporting this critically important mission.”

Here’s how the Exchange is serving Afghan guests and U.S. troops supporting the mission:

Western Region:

  • Fort Bliss, Texas
    • Operating troop and tent stores at the Doña Ana Range Complex
    • Serving as a procurement source for command to secure clothing, blankets, radios and footlockers for the guests
    • Working to add an Armed Forces Bank ATM and a Western Union location at the Doña Ana Alpha site
    • Serving fresh meals from seven food trucks
  • Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico
    • Operating a Mobile Field Exchange (MFE)—a 53-foot-store on wheels packed with snacks, beverages and hygiene essentials—from Sept. 11 to Oct. 4
    • Opening a tent store, which replaced the MFE and includes a concession bazaar area, on Oct. 4

Central Region:

  • Fort McCoy, Wisconsin
    • Operating two MFEs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 25 and Sept. 1 to 25 respectively
    • Providing services through the Exchange branch store and food court through Oct. 10
    • Opening the Westside Express, a store only for Afghan guests and military personnel supporting OAW, on Oct. 1 (replaces MFE and branch store support)
    • Coordinating two food trucks and opening a Hunt Brothers Pizza quick-serve restaurant at the branch store on Sept. 27
    • Opening a second Hunt Brothers location on Oct. 16
    • Planning for a mobile barber shop and secondary building, which will include Western Union service
  • Camp Atterbury, Indiana
    • Deploying an MFE to the installation’s north side on Sept. 14
    • Setting up a satellite store on the installation’s south side on Sept. 15
    • Providing services through the existing branch store, Subway restaurant, hot dog stand and troop store
    • Working to offer Western Union service at the South Atterbury satellite store
    • Opening a food truck

Eastern Region:

  • Fort Lee, Virginia
    • Deploying an MFE to serve 1,700 guests
    • Opening two food trucks
    • Assisting command in procuring blankets during the mission’s first week
  • Fort Pickett, Virginia
    • Deploying an MFE to serve the installation’s 7,500 guests
    • Repurposing the existing troop store to serve Afghan guests and supporting military
    • Offering fresh meals from seven food trucks, as well as retail concessions from eight vendors offering clothing, baby strollers, cosmetic goods and more
    • Deploying a mobile barber shop to support service members
    • Providing service through the existing Express convenience store
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey:
    • Operating an MFE from Sept. 6 to Oct. 13
    • Serving the installation’s 13,000 Afghan guests at Liberty Place Marketplace, a tent store that replaced the MFE on Oct. 14, as well as a small walk-up store
    • Serving the installation’s 11,000 Afghan guests from an MFE and small walk-up store
    • Constructing a tent store, which will replace the MFE
    • Serving as a procurement source for the installation to secure blankets, towels and sheets

Europe/Southwest Asia Region:

  • Ramstein Air Base, Germany
    • Operating an MFE to serve troops supporting OAW from Aug. 29 to Sept. 30
    • Opening a barber shop and food truck for troops supporting at Rhine Ordnance Barracks
    • Serving as a procurement source for the Red Cross to secure blankets, baby formula, pillows, shower shoes and other essentials
    • Helping the 86th Force Support Squadron source educational items for guests’ children including projectors, flash cards, learning books, pencils and composition books
  • Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar
    • Reopening the Camp As Sayliyah Exchange just four months after its initial closure to serve troops supporting OAW
      • Partnering with the Merchandising; Planning, Allocation and Replenishment; and Kuwait Exchange teams to reopen in just two and a half weeks
    • Working with the Kuwait Exchange, Logistics and the Army and Air Force to airlift a 40-foot fixture container from Kuwait to Qatar via a Boeing C-17—a first for the Exchange
    • Engaging the barber and Green Beans Coffee concessionaires to quickly resume service for troops supporting OAW
  • Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
    • Operating a twice-weekly rodeo, or temporary store, for guests staying at Camp Liya
    • Offering weekly barber and beauty service to guests at Liya
    • Fulfilling special requests to offer specific items, such as duffel bags, as needed
    • Boosting inventory at the Camp Bondsteel Exchange to support U.S. and NATO forces supporting OAW at Camps Bondsteel and Bechtel
    • Extending operating hours at the Camp Bondsteel Burger King and Subway locations to accommodate troops
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