Military motorists who live outside Germany are being advised under AAFES’ new fuel card system to apply for temporary fuel cards — and gas up — before driving into the country.

The prepaid fuel cards, which are being phased in starting Tuesday, can be obtained only at Army and Air Force Exchange Service sites within Germany.

But the paperwork to obtain the cards can be filled out at military police stations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

The permission forms could then be brought by motorists to AAFES sites in Germany, where they could obtain fuel cards.

"We wanted to provide that service because people can do that at their own convenience," said Dave Mattingly, the fuel-ration card program manager for Installation Management Command-Europe.

Under the status of forces agreement, eligible drivers can buy fuel in Germany at U.S.-based prices, which are typically less than half the German prices.

After July 6, coupons for German fuel no longer will be sold in countries outside Germany.

The German government recently has required that AAFES replace its paper coupon system with a more tightly regulated, computerized fuel card system. IMCOM-Europe and AAFES officials have said that Germany could have pulled the plug on U.S. personnel’s right to buy cheaper fuel in the country.

Col. James P. Drago, commander of the Chievres, Belgium-based U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, acknowledged that the new system is less convenient for personnel who preferred to drive directly into Germany with a booklet of prepaid fuel coupons.

"This isn’t a flowery subject for a lot of people," Drago said in the news release.

"However, given the choice between not getting rationed fuel or meeting more vigorous requirements and getting rationed fuel, I believe most people would choose getting rationed fuel."

Mattingly said that Germany-based owners of U.S. Army Europe-registered vehicles were being reminded that they had until Friday to update their vehicle-user information at their local registration offices.

Registrations must list all drivers, such as other family members, who would be authorized to use a vehicle’s fuel-ration card to gas up the vehicle.

People who register vehicles on or after May 27 will be issued fuel cards at that time.

Others will be receiving fuel cards in the mail, which would then be activated at local AAFES sites. The fuel cards will be mailed to military post boxes in phases, community by community, over the summer and into the fall.

AAFES teams availability

Ansbach/Illesheim: July 7-20Baumholder: July 14-26Bamberg: July 14-26Spangdahlem: July 28-Aug. 24Geilenkirchen: Aug. 4-10Vilseck: Aug. 11-24Grafenwöhr: Aug. 25-Sept. 7Schweinfurt: Aug. 25-Sept. 7Hohenfels: Sept. 8-14Stuttgart (Panzer): Sept. 8-21Wiesbaden: Sept. 15-Oct. 12Stuttgart (Patch): Sept. 22-Oct. 5Vogelweh: Oct. 6-Nov. 2Mannheim: Oct. 13-Nov. 2Heidelberg: Nov. 3-30Ramstein: Nov. 3-Dec. 15 Installation Management Command-Europe

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