[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         June 13, 2008

Tactical Field Exchange at FOB 
Freedom open to Soldiers

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.

Photo: Soldiers shop the Tactical Field Exchange at Forward Operating Base Freedom at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Tom Michele)
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 Soldier goes."

      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 Freedom.

      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 Services.)


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