In reference to the Sept. 26 front-page article “Online, for-profit colleges to see more oversight”: It’s a shame that the Department of Defense has pushed these ersatz online college education courses for credit over traditional in-classroom education offered by Central Texas College here in Asia since 1976 and the University of Maryland since 1956. Shortly after the millennium, when DOD started its GoArmyEd program overseas by awarding the nearly half-billion-dollar contract to IBM to get as much of the traditional curriculum online as possible, college education for our servicemembers started going right down the toilet.

I taught college courses to our servicemembers all over the Pacific almost continuously since the late 1970s before recently retiring. Now in place of a fairly rigorous academic environment we have online for-profit so-called college and universities offering assorted flapdoodle and piffle in lieu of a real academic challenge. They advertise things like “No GRE or GMAT entrance exams” and “You can complete your degree in about two years.” Concerned about exam skills? No problem: “No comprehensive exams or thesis required.” Might just as well give the degree away.

Shame on DOD for sanctioning this scam. If the brass feels that GIs don’t have the time to be released consistently from duty to attend classes, then they should at least have the integrity to say, “OK, wait till you get out. Then we’ll give you your GI Bill and you can get yourself a real education.”

Ron Roman

Songtan, South Korea

Still a gulf in gas prices

Regarding the April 25 (Europe edition) article “AAFES fuel price hike in Europe is biggest spike seen in six months”: The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is raising fuel prices to match fuel prices in the States, which, according to the article, are “pegged at just under $3.56 a gallon.” Really? A visit to shows the national average is $2.75 (Oct. 6). Gas is $3.43 a gallon in Hawaii. Did you know that Hawaii was the worldwide benchmark for AAFES fuel prices?

A visit to the Energy Information Administration website ( — the organization quoted in the article — and it states that the average cost per gallon is $2.73 (Oct. 4); pretty close — yet 84 cents less than AAFES quotes. The cost of crude oil is blamed for rising fuel prices. According to AAFES, crude oil “flirted with $120 a barrel earlier this week.” Crude oil is around $83 a barrel. I realize that the oil is “crude,” but flirting from more than $40 away? That’s more than crude; that’s vulgar!

Stars and Stripes need to check all of AAFES’ figures before reporting them because AAFES has been gouging soldiers on fuel and making excuses for years. Anyone remember the “we’re subsidizing diapers with our fuel prices” campaign a while ago?

Finally, the overused quote “While these prices are records for AAFES, they are dwarfed by prices off base in Europe” is comparing apples to oranges. Let’s make them both oranges. Fuel taxes in Europe are about 76 Euro cent/liter (Esso station stickers). If you take away 76 Euro cent per liter (3.8 liter/gallon) you get a 2.88 Euro tax or about $3.80. Subtract that from the German $5.60/gallon price, and you get $1.80 a gallon. If you subtract the 15 percent tax on U.S. gas (, you get $2.30 a gallon. Bottom Line: Gas without taxes is cheaper in Europe.

Just my two-cent opinion. Of course, if I worked for AAFES, it would cost you 75 cents.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rob Wills

Heidelberg, Germany

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