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ARLINGTON, Va. — In the space of just 11 months, EagleCash has begun to soar.

Last August, there were around 6,000 deployed servicemembers with the cards in their wallets, according to officials of the program. Today almost 60,000 servicemembers are using them.

The success of the program, a joint effort of the Army and Treasury Department, is largely thanks to recent expansion in U.S. Central Command. Instead of the 12 bases where the cards were accepted last year, there are now up to 40, including 26 in Iraq and six in Afghanistan.

That means more troops will be able to get cash quicker “instead of standing in line at the finance office for hours on end,” according to Graham Mackenzie, the Treasury Department’s stored value card program manager.

EagleCash also marked another milestone in mid-May: it’s not just an Army program anymore. The first Air Force-managed location, Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, was part of the expansion and is now open, Mackenzie said.

EagleCash uses “smart card” technology to replace cash and checks with a plastic card. Cardholders can load cash onto them, then use the cards for purchases at the PX and other downrange facilities, provided their base is set up with the system.

Users can access self-serve kiosk on a forward operating base and to add more cash to the card, using a bank or credit union account at home. The card is free and has no service charges.

EagleCash got its start in Bosnia and Kosovo in 1999, but Mackenzie said as late as last summer officials were still working to create awareness of the program among servicemembers in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, the Army and Treasury Department sent teams throughout the Middle East to manage the expansion of EagleCash, particularly into Iraq.

Mackenzie said the Air Force has already identified its next two priority sites for EagleCash installation: Al Dhafra Air Basein the United Arab Emirates, and Manas Air Base in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Plans call for those two bases to have EagleCash installed within the next 90 days, he said.

For more information about EagleCash, including a list of locations, where it is available and instructions on applying for cards, go to http://www.fms.treas.gov.

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