Kadena Exchange Hosts Under Secretary of Defense for P&R
The Kadena Air Base Exchange team welcomed the Honorable Gilbert Cisneros Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, during his visit to the Pacific this month. The team highlighted the Exchange’s value and commitment to delivering a taste of home to those who serve.
“Thank you for doing a great job,” Cisneros told the Kadena team after his Feb. 1 tour. “Your stores look good, and I will be back to shop.”
Okinawa Exchange General Manager David Swenson, Main Store Manager Flor Payton and Food Court Manager Andrew Nims led Cisneros and Brig. Gen. David Eaglin, 18th Wing commanding general, on a tour of Exchange operations at Kadena.
“The team emphasized the Exchange’s 127-year mission of service and support,” Swenson said. “Offering the products, services and restaurants that service members and families are used to having back home in the States helps our heroes stay mission-focused and ready. The team did an outstanding job of demonstrating the Exchange’s value to the under secretary.”
The Exchange is the Department of Defense’s largest retailer. This was Cisneros’ first visit to Okinawa since being appointed in August 2021.
Nims highlighted his team’s unique capabilities, which includes support of the school meal program and airline catering operation. More than 72,000 meals were served to service members, families and civilians on 310 flights out of Kadena. Roughly 74,000 meals are served to Warfighters’ children each month in school cafeterias.
Payton greeted Cisneros at the Exchange’s newest mall store—Bath & Body Works— which gave him a firsthand look at the name brands offered.
The team also highlighted career opportunities for military spouses in Okinawa.
“Several opportunities exist for military spouses relocating to Okinawa,” Payton said. “The Exchange has a spouse preference program that provides them priority over other applicants.”
The team also emphasized the value of new self-checkout registers, which have been popular with service members and families. Self-checkout reduces customer wait times, increases productivity and frees teammates to assist shoppers on the floor.
“The tour went very well,” Swenson said. “It is important for the under secretary to see the lengths that the Exchange goes to in taking care of our service members and families on Okinawa.”