The coalition members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve will soon have a new AAFES Exchange at Erbil Air Base in Iraq, thanks in part, to the hard work and dedication of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Essayons (TFE).
The new Exchange, which will officially open July 4, 2019, in line with the Independence Day celebrations on Erbil, will serve a significant base population of U.S. and coalition soldiers and civilians.
“The existing AAFES Exchange is a mobile expeditionary unit which consists of two semi-trailers providing approximately 650 square-feet of retail space,” said Brian Smith, the Iraq Exchange’s General Manager. “This particular expeditionary Exchange store has been in place for over three years, but it has severe limitations with respect to stocking and storage, administrative space, emergency egress, and adequate retail space to stock critical commodities. Our new AAFES Exchange Store has more than 2,100 square feet of retail floor space to provide necessary commodities and popular merchandise, what we refer to as ‘a taste of home’ for deployed soldiers and civilians,” he said.
In addition, the new Exchange store contains a Western Union financial service area, almost 500 square-feet of warehouse space and stocking area, administrative office space, a dedicated communications closet, and covered exterior entrance and break areas.
The project was a design-build contract put together by TFE, headquartered at Camp Taji in Iraq. It was awarded to a local Erbil contractor, and designed and constructed in accordance with a combination of U.S. and British standard codes. The Contractor completed design in December 2018 and building construction started in January 2019.
According to TFE Project Engineer Doug Newton, building construction started in the middle of a rainy season that saw a historical amount of precipitation at Erbil Air Base. “Despite the extreme rainy season, construction was completed in less than five months with superb quality and attention to detail, and with no contract modifications or delays,” he said. “From contract award through construction completion, the Contractor worked closely with USACE Quality Assurance/Contracting Officer Representatives (QA/CORs) and provided outstanding Quality Control management and oversight. “
As the CJTF-OIR effort and mission continues to evolve, this new Exchange should serve as an exceptional facility for providing AAFES goods and services to deployed troops and civilians. From a contracting, design, and construction perspective, the project should serve as a model for superb construction oversight, according to Newton.