It is called by a lot of different acronyms, Army personnel call theirs the PX, Air Force called their Base Exchange the BX, Sailors the Ships Store, (afloat) and called the NEX when ashore. The US Coast Guard calls theirs the CGX, and the Marines nickname their post exchanges the MCX, but it’s the same result: A place where Servicemembers can go to find products goods and services that they need, sometimes at considerable savings than can be found in public venues.
Exchanges are a physical building but they are also facilities that sell via catalog sales, online and Internet Sales, and through retail stores. On the Internet it’s often called the Exchange Online Store, with each Service having their own version. Exchange stores have their own products in some cases as well as private label and name brand goods from civilian sources. There is no sales tax at Military Exchanges, and so prices are often very competitive or lower than can be found at public retail stores.
There are four different exchange systems around the world serving U.S. Forces
-Naval exchange systems serve over one hundred seven Navy installations, and have four hundred stores of all different sizes. Naval Exchange headquarters is based in Virginia Beach Virginia.
-The Marine Corps run their Seventeen USMC Exchanges from Quantico, Virginia. They have a total of one hundred seventy retail and resale facilities around the world.
-Coast Guard Headquarters and Exchange system is commanded out of Washington, D.C. They supply the various CGX stores worldwide and also support the ships stores aboard U.S. Coast Guard ships stationed worldwide.
-Air Force and Army Exchanges, which is the largest and oldest of the systems. They have more than twelve thousand facilities including over one hundred sixty stores around the world.
Known by the acronym AAFES, both the Army and Air Force System, and the Marine Corps Exchange system support Operations Troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq and other front line troops.
Troops that man the Exchange facilities on the front lines are volunteer deployment specialists, they have volunteered for the duty to serve front line soldiers. Front line Exchanges are often basic, with toiletries, phone cards, clothing and cold drinks being first priorities. Exchanges are not only completely self-supporting, but any additional profits are turned back into a fund to benefit troops. Funds such as Morale, Welfare and Troop Recreation often receive funds from Military Exchange sales.