To the writer of “Confused by the gas price gap” (letter, April 19) or anyone else thinking of writing about the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s gas price policies, I can only give the following piece of advice: Forget about it, don’t bother, just give it up!

As someone who has lived in Europe for 20 of the past 26 years, I can tell you that every question about AAFES’ gas policy has already been asked and I have yet to see or hear clear, concise answers to any of those questions.

Yes, we know AAFES uses the U.S. national gas average, but does not pay any of the federal, state and local taxes that are used in the average. Good luck in getting an answer to that.

According to its own announcements and propaganda spots on the American Forces Radio and Television Service, AAFES adds an 8-to-15-cent surcharge per gallon on top of the national average in order to cover the costs of the fuel program. Why this surcharge is added on top of an average that includes taxes not paid has been asked before.

The main question that should be answered is not how the fuel prices are computed, but what is the actual, wholesale, tax-free price paid for the gas from German distributors before we pump it into our vehicles. The difference from what we pay at the pump and what AAFES pays could explain everything, but ... best wishes in getting that answered too.

Instead of worrying about it, we should just accept that AAFES is a government-recognized monopoly and, no matter how much AAFES officials tell us different, profit is the name of the game.

I will just enjoy my below-cost diapers and be thankful I am not paying the German price at the pump.

Ken Emerson

Stuttgart, Germany

Korea hardship pay outdated

The recent warning of the possible downgrade of the reliability of the U.S. to repay its debts is a wake-up call for fiscal action. Some talking head recently likened the tour [for U.S. servicemembers] in South Korea to that of Germany. In fact, he said it was even better here. So why the hardship pay [for serving in South Korea]?

More than $2 million a year is an unnecessary expenditure for something that may have been legitimate 40 years ago, but isn’t today.

Living on South Post in U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan with one’s family members is far from a hardship.

Master Sgt. Stephen A. McKean (retired)

U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, South Korea

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