Maj. Gen. Paul W. "Bill" Essex is Commander and Chief Executive Officer, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Dallas, Texas. AAFES is the 38th largest retail company in the United States, with revenue of around $9 billion per year. It employs more than 45,000 civilians and provides department stores, convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, theaters, vending and other businesses on military installations in 49 states and 34 countries. AAFES is a non-appropriated fund instrumentality and operates as a Soldier and Airman owned co-op, with 98 percent of its budget generated from sales. AAFES currently operates more than 50 stores in the Southwest Asia area of responsibility, with 29 stores in Iraq.
General Essex entered the Air Force in 1973 as a distinguished graduate of Miami University's ROTC program. He is a command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours, primarily in the KC-135. His operational experience includes command of a squadron, an operations group and two wings. He led numerous deployments, and served as installation commander at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. As installation commander, his units won Department of Defense-level awards for environmental programs and overall installation excellence. As Deputy Director of NATO's Reaction Force Air Staff, he successfully led planners from 19 nations in some of NATO's first large scale peacekeeping exercises. General Essex also served as Mission Area Director for Global Reach programs at the Pentagon, overseeing a $37 billion acquisition portfolio to provide modern cargo and tanker aircraft, trainers, special operations forces and VIP airlift, and the needed support for these systems.
Prior to assuming his current position, General Essex was Director of Plans and Programs, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill., where he was responsible for force structure planning and programming, doctrine, requirements, manpower and analysis for the nation's airlift and refueling force. He was instrumental in restructuring Air Mobility Command to meet the demands of the Global War on Terror.
1973 Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology and physiology, Miami University
1979 Master's degree in business management, Central Michigan University
1979 Distinguished graduate, Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1985 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1990 Master's degree in national security and strategic studies, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
1996 Advanced Management Program, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.
1999 Joint Force Air Component Commander Course, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2000 Russian-U.S. Executive Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
2000 Defense Acquisition Executive Overview Workshop, Defense Acquisition University, Fort Belvoir, Va.
2000 System Acquisitions Management for Flag Officers and Senior Executive Service Civilians, Defense Acquisition University, Fort Belvoir, Va.
2002 Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
1. September 1973 - October 1974, student, undergraduate pilot training, Vance AFB, Okla.
2. April 1975 - April 1980, KC-135A co-pilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot, 911th Air Refueling Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
3. April 1980 - December 1982, KC-135 and EC-135 flight examiner, training flight instructor and special operations program manager, 305th and 70th air refueling squadrons, Grissom AFB, Ind.
4. January 1983 - August 1984, aide to the Commander, 8th Air Force, Barksdale AFB, La.
5. August 1984 - June 1985, student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
6. July 1985 - November 1987, Deputy Chief, Programs Development Division, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Neb.
7. November 1987 - July 1989, Commander, 92nd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
8. August 1989 - June 1990, student, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
9. June 1990 - April 1992, professor, joint military operations and head of the Strategy and Operations Division, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
10. April 1992 - July 1993, Commander, 453rd Operations Group, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
11. July 1993 - March 1994, Assistant Director of Operations and Transportation, Headquarters AMC, Scott AFB, Ill.
12. March 1994 - December 1995, Commander, 19th Air Refueling Wing, Robins AFB, Ga.
13. December 1995 - November 1996, Deputy Director of Plans, Headquarters AMC, Scott AFB, Ill.
14. November 1996 - November 1998, Commander, 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
15. November 1998 - April 2000, Deputy Director, NATO's Reaction Force Air Staff, Kalkar, Germany
16. April 2000 - February 2003, Mission Area Director, Global Reach Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
17. February 2003 - June 2005, Director of Plans and Programs, Headquarters AMC, Scott AFB, Ill.
18. June 2005 - present, Commander and Chief Executive Officer, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Dallas, Texas
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 3,600
Aircraft flown; T-37, T-38, KC-135A/R/T and EC-135L/G
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Navy Commendation Medal
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant June 10, 1973
First Lieutenant Sept. 24, 1975
Captain Sept. 24, 1977
Major Aug. 1, 1984
Lieutenant Colonel May 1, 1987
Colonel Jan. 1, 1992
Brigadier General Oct. 15, 1997
Major General Oct. 1, 2000
(Current as of October 2007)