By Chris Ward
Army & Air Force Exchange Service Public Affairs
In keeping with its mission of “we go where you go,” the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is ensuring that more than 30,000 U.S., NATO and multinational troops have basic necessities as they participate in Anakonda 16 in Poland this month.
The Exchange has set up three brand new Mobile Field Exchanges (MFEs) at the most densely troop-populated areas in Poland; Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Torun and Orzysz. MFEs are specially configured semitrailers furnished with retail merchandise, supplies and equipment that support contingency operations as well as disaster relief efforts. The assortment ranges from snacks and drinks to toiletries and batteries. Exchange associates from across Europe volunteered to run the MFEs for the duration of the exercise.
“To live up to our motto of going where the troops go, it’s important to have mobile Exchange capability,” said U.S. Army Col. Geoff De Tingo, Exchange Europe Region Commander. “Since we can’t just come in and set up a brick-and-mortar facility for a short military exercise, the MFE is the perfect solution to ensure that the troops participating are mission ready and have the basics to see them through.”
All U.S. and NATO troops as well as multinational Soldiers, with the exception of the Poles, are authorized to shop the MFEs. Sgt. 1st Class John Hodges, Mayor Cell Officer in Charge in Orzysz, expressed his gratitude for the Exchange presence.
“The support of the Exchange has been unbelievable,” Hodges said. “These guys open early, stay late and we have even coordinated some really late openings for Soldiers arriving or coming back from training. The shelves are always fully stocked with everything a Soldier could need. All the guys here appreciate it more than you know.”
Anakonda 16, which is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, is a large-scale military exercise involving troops from 24 countries to test readiness and interoperability. The two-week exercise marks the largest in Europe since 1992.