Army and Air Force Exchange Service

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (the Exchange) has an enduring mission to provide quality merchandise and services to its customers at competitively low prices and to generate earnings which provide a dividend to support morale, welfare and recreation programs.

The Exchange is a joint non-appropriated fund instrumentality of the Department of Defense (DoD) and provides quality merchandise and services to active duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees and their families at competitively low prices. The Exchange is now in its 117th year. Shopping the Exchange offers an average overall savings of 25 percent compared to shopping the competition. The Exchange returned $203 million to the military services in 2011. Shoppers can enjoy Exchange benefits in many ways, with the greatest value being the Exchange pledge "We go where you go," serving troops worldwide.

To be our customers' first choice.

When military members deploy to remote locations around the world, the Exchange is with them, offering products and services to bring troops a taste of home. The Exchange also supports deployed troops with programs such as gift and phone cards. These programs allow any American to show their support to military members worldwide.

The Exchange is a multi-channel retailer, offering products to authorized customers via retail stores, online and mobile shopping. More than 18 million items are available through the Exchange Online Store and Online Mall. The Exchange supports an extremely mobile customer base. The Internet provides the ability to extend the Exchange benefit to authorized shoppers worldwide, regardless of where they are located.

The Exchange is a major source of employment for military families. Approximately 23 percent of the more than 42,000 Exchange Associates are military family members; 10 percent are veterans; two percent are active-duty or Reserve personnel working part-time in Exchanges during their off-duty hours.

Roughly two-thirds of the Exchange's earnings are paid to Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM G-9) and Air Force Services programs. In the past ten years, the Exchange has contributed more than $2.4 billion to quality-of-life improvements including youth services, Armed Forces, Recreation Centers, arts and crafts, aquatic centers, golf courses and more. In addition to funding morale welfare and services programs, Exchange earnings also go toward building new stores or renovating existing facilities. Construction funds for these new or replacement facilities come entirely from the sale of merchandise and services. Revenues in FY '11 totaled $10.3 billion, including $1.6 billion in concession sales. Earnings totaled more than $277 million. Dividends to the services were:
$121.3M to the Army
$68.8M to the Air Force
$12.1M to the Marine Corps
$1.1M to the Navy
For 2011, the Exchange paid a per capita dividend of $212 for every Soldier and Airman.

During the American Revolution, the military did not issue personal items such as soap, razors, and tobacco to soldiers. However, peddlers -- called sutlers -- followed the Army and sold merchandise, most of it inferior. Because of its corruption, traders authorized to sell merchandise at each post replaced the sutler system in 1867. By 1889, the War Department authorized canteens, putting traders out of business.

On July 25, 1895, General Order No. 46 set the standard for the concept and mission of today's Exchange Service. Eventually, independent operations evolved at Army divisional levels. Large posts, with little or no direction from higher headquarters, established a post exchange to serve their unit. Post commanders decided how to spend earnings. The system remained basically unchanged until 1941, when the War Department established the Army Exchange Service to provide broad guidance for worldwide operations. When the Air Force became a separate service, the Exchange became a joint operation. In 1948, the organization became the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

The Exchange is responsible for more than 3,700 facilities worldwide in more than 30 countries, 50 states and five U.S. territories. The Exchange operates 157 main stores, 182 Military Clothing facilities, over 1,000 specialty stores (gas stations, bookstores, Class Six, etc.) and more than 120 theaters. Plus the Exchange has more than 2,100 fast food restaurants, such as Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway. Concession operations overseen by the Exchange add nearly 6,000 more activities. Learn more at