KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has ordered many Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities closed as a way to focus on the war and to provide space for the U.S. troop buildup.
According to a “fragmentary order” issued earlier this month, concessions such as Burger King, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Pizza Hut, the Oakley stores and Military Car Sales must be closed within 60 days, with the possibility that each concession could get a 30-day extension.
“With all the resources and personnel coming in, you just don’t have the space (for the facilities that are being closed),” one U.S. military official said.
The amount of canned goods and bottled goods coming into Afghanistan as well as first-run movie showings and non-United Service Organizations shows will be scaled back as part of the order, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the top U.S. enlisted man in Afghanistan, wrote on his blog.
“This is a war zone — not an amusement park,” Hall wrote.
The order does not require the closure of some quality of life facilities and programs, the official said. Internet access, including the ability to talk to loved ones on Skype, and library services will remain, he said.
AAFES stores will stay open along with barber and beauty shops, USO operations and services such as checking out recreation gear, movies and board games. The order also exempts Green Bean coffee shops, AT&T call centers, cell phone activation services, alterations concessions and Afghan bazaars that operate one day a week.
The major bases that will be affected by the closings will be Bagram and Kandahar air bases, Camp Phoenix and Camp Salerno, the military official said.