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Abuse of base facilities

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Robert P. Steel
  • 48th Fighter Wing commander

Are you aware how many British people shop on base with active duty military members, getting tax-free goods? Something needs to be done about it.

I recommend the Base Exchange and all Army Air Force Exchange Services facilities, as well as the commissary, bring back ID checkers at their doors. That way, no British citizens or foreigners can get in to shop. At present, they pick out what they want and then get their active-duty military friends or neighbors to buy them on their behalf at a later date so no one is any the wiser. This really isn't right.

Many British people also use the laundromat and gym. Some British workers on base might have entitlement but they also bring their friends and families to save money on fees. I don't want to be forced into the situation of confronting people, and I don't want to get into any arguments. Surely notices could be put on the doors of the facilities to warn they can only be used by full ID card holders.

You are correct. Only authorized ID card holders are permitted to use the commissary and AAFES retail facilities. As agreed with UK authorities, ID cards are checked at the point of sale to ensure non-entitled persons, who may visit the BX, do not make purchases. While it is permitted to purchase an occasional bona-fide gift for a non-entitled person, it is a violation of Air Force regulations and UK Customs laws to shop for non-entitled persons and sell them items from the commissary or BX. Any person involved in doing this can be reported to both US and UK authorities. In addition to the loss of exchange shopping privileges and possible disciplinary action against military members, the UK authorities will likely prosecute under their law. The non-entitled person can be barred from base and also prosecuted by UK authorities for receiving duty-free goods.

Under our agreement with UK authorities, local national employees are entitled to a "dining facility" and therefore, may use any food outlet serving meals, including AAFES dining facilities, during normal work hours. This does not include access to the Commissary to purchase food items nor does it include obtaining meals outside normal working hours or for family or friends. Local national employees may also use the gym and other fitness facilities during normal working hours (provided there is no fee for the use of these facilities, such as at the golf course or bowling alley). Access to the dining facilities, gym and fitness facilities is authorized because there is a work-related need. The same cannot be said for laundry facilities. Local national employees and other non-entitled persons are not authorized to use the laundromat. This is a VAT-free service open to entitled persons only. However, vending services are an open function which is open to all those personnel authorized to be on an installation.