Firing Line: Conversation Week #5 July 2016

Firing Line: Conversation Week #5 July 2016

Publication Date
Thursday, July 28, 2016

a.  NCO and Solider Programs – “Imagine if we did not have AAFES and this MWR Support in today’s fiscally challenged budget environment,” SMA (Ret) Kenneth O. Preston.”


This week the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) celebrates 121 years of service and support to our soldiers, airmen, retired servicemen and women, and their families.  AAFES is managed and run by the Army and Air Force leadership. 

Their business model is one where they raise money in support of the Army and Air Force for Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) activities.  After all their employees and utilities are paid, approximately 75% of all profit goes to support MWR at military bases around the world.  The remaining, approximately 25%, is used to fund recapitalization of existing stores and facilities, and to build new facilities when needed.  While civilian retail stores are very competitive in their pricing, their profits belong to their stock holders; compared to AAFES where the MWR funds go to the service members and their families who are the stock holders.  Check out to learn more about a piece of our Army’s heritage.    

Garrison commanders and their leadership determine where and how these MWR funds can best support service members at their particular base as determined by the needs of the military families based in the area.  Last year these MWR contributions were more than $220 million dollars.  Imagine if we did not have AAFES and this MWR support in today’s fiscally challenged budget environment.  We enjoy these pieces of quality of life based on our own support and destiny.  Check out for how we take care of our own.    

AAFES has a history of going where the service member and their families live and serve from the plains of the Old West to the combat zones and deployment areas around the world.  The PX on Army bases and BX on Airforce bases is a common place for military families to shop in a secure and modern environment.  AAFES has evolved many time over the years and they will continue to evolve to meet the needs of our women and men in uniform and their families.  This week we say Happy Birthday and thank you to AAFES for always being there to provide a little piece of home no matter where you are asked to serve around the world.

Kenneth O. Preston
Sergeant Major of the Army (Ret)
Director NCO and Soldier Programs
Association of the United States Army /

b.  NCO and Soldier Programs – “How do we deal with terrorist attacks like what happened in France this week?”

The question troubling France on Wednesday in the wake of the attack by a teenager who aspired to go to Syria, but settled instead for cutting the throat of a priest, is whether the crime was a result of failures by the French government, and what more could have been done to prevent it.  With the Director of the CIA warning of Syrian terrorists spreading into Western countries and the increased number of attacks as we have seen in recent weeks, the question on everyone’s mind is; how do we deal with this threat and how do we stop it?  What recommended changes would you suggest?

c.  AUSA Five Things - “ Did you realize about 2 percent of active-duty families receive Food Stamps?

AUSA Five Things:  A Weekly Tip Sheet for AUSA Members, dated July 25, 2016:  “Soldiers on Food Stamps.”  

A Government Accountability Office report looking at why $21 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits were spent at commissaries last year found that active-duty families can qualify for 18 federal food assistance programs mostly aimed at low-income families. Program rules vary by how income is counted, but a corporal stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, with a family of six could receive SNAP benefits, and a family of three living in privatized military housing could receive school lunch and breakfast program aid.

What to watch: About 2 percent of active-duty families are estimated to receive SNAP benefits, but no accurate count has been made. One way to find out would be to match military records with those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a data analysis that has proven complicated but not impossible.

d.  AUSA News – “How can the Army increase diversity in the force?”

In mid-July at Fort Eustis, Virginia , the Army's Training and Doctrine Command convened the 2016 Army Diversity Summit to examine the reasons why the top tiers of leadership remain so homogeneous.

Read more:


(1)  Does the increase in cyberattacks in the U.S. concern you?

o   Yes

o   No  

o   Not sure