By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
A few last-minute necessities late in the day for troops at
Forward Operating Base (FOB) Freedom are available in the combat-like
environment of the outpost at Fort McCoy.
Soldiers shop the Tactical Field
Exchange at Forward Operating Base Freedom at Fort McCoy.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
FOB Freedom's Tactical Field Exchange (TFE) is, very simply, a
standard civilian over-the-road semitrailer set into place, and
stocked with simple necessities, or slightly more than what the Army
issues its troops.
"A sunburn relief gel sells a lot, probably our most
popular item," Tami Reekie said from behind the cashier's
checkout counter at the TFE at FOB Freedom.
"The TFE is important because it means a lot to the
Soldiers for us to be here," Reekie said. "When they are
happy it makes us happy. It's important to show the troops how much we
care, especially just before they are being deployed overseas."
Brand name soda pops are the next most popular items at the
Army and Air Force Exchange Service's (AAFES) facility at FOB Freedom.
"We sell a lot of canned tuna packaged with crackers and a
little plastic spoon," Reekie said.
Reekie, an annex operator/supervisor with AAFES, and one of
three people operating the FOB TFE, explained the TFE at Fort McCoy is
"just like overseas and all over the world, so we go where the
Life at the FOB for a week or two or more is very specifically
designed to be as much like what a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine
will encounter while serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring
Evidence of the popularity of the TFE is seen in the average of
100 to 200 troops who visit the TFE each day from mid-April to
late-August, the busiest period of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and
Marines going through the mobilization training.
The TFE is open seven nights a week, from 7-10 p.m.
Some of the items for sale on the shelves in the TFE to help
bolster a Soldier's life are canned meats, chips, cereal bars,
nutrition drinks, bottled water, toaster pastries, crackers and candy.
All items are items that do not need refrigeration or heating.
Nonfood items include sandwich bags, batteries, notebooks,
playing cards, laundry soap packets, hygiene products, baby wipes,
insect repellent, hand and bath towels, wash cloths and a few military
clothing sales items, particularly gloves and t-shirts.
There is a limited selection of DVDs, paperback books,
magazines, telephone cards and tobacco products.
Fort McCoy AAFES general manager Ralph Kleemann said another
TFE is planned to be in operation at FOB Liberty in early July.
(Michele is a public affairs specialist for
Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base