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Mideast edition, Saturday, September 1, 2007

WASHINGTON — Troops in western Iraq could start seeing snacks, laundry supplies and T-shirts getting to base store shelves more quickly under a pilot program being launched next month.

Officials at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service are working with Agility Defense and Government Services to open a new supply line though Jordan for post exchange items. The effort, which will launch in mid-September, will move about 60 trailer containers of merchandise into the country each day.

Agility’s president, retired Maj. Gen. Dan Mongeon, said his company already uses the route to move food and other supplies for military dining facilities. Adding the AAFES shipments to that supply chain won’t create a major headache for the company, and should provide fairly immediate results.

“Right now, items coming from Germany going through Turkey can take up to 14 days on land to get to the border, and that’s before any (Turkish/Iraqi) border delays,” Mongeon said. “With this route, we’re able to get it there in two days, and it’s much less congested on the Jordanian border.”

That should mean less waiting time for items that sell out quickly, things like candy, bags of potato chips, socks and uniform replacements. Time sensitive materials — magazines, CDs and movies — are not included in the shipments.

AAFES officials hope the experiment will not only provide quicker service to those western Iraq bases but also give them more avenues to move their products to U.S. bases across the country.

No plans have been set yet for how long the pilot will last or, if successful, when it might expand to more bases and AAFES posts.

Agility, which also handles supply routes through Kuwait, holds a number of contracts with the U.S. military but this is its first work directly with AAFES.


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