Pennies and POGs - the Dollars and Cents of Setting up Shop in a War Zone
|DALLAS - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's response to the needs of deployed troops in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom is well documented. While it is understood that AAFES 'Goes Where You Go,' there has been some confusion about where the metal currency goes once troops hit the ground. |
"In contingency operations, AAFES must rely on military finance for currency used in its store," said AAFES' Chief of Corporate Communications Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. "The military does not provide coins in the contingency theater due to the weight of coins and other mission priorities."
In light of the restrictions placed on metal currency, AAFES uses a variety of methods that allow it to continue to offer retail services at 54 PX/BX facilities located throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
Many deployed troops and collectors are familiar with the flat, disc-like gift certificates worth 5, 10 and 25-cents used primarily in contingency locations to save the Department of Defense the extra cost of transporting heavy coins into war zones. Dubbed POGs, the gift certificates are the only way AAFES can support deployed troops without access to traditional metal currency.
POGs are accepted in any AAFES Exchange around the world. Sporting distinctive military imagery, they have generally been well received and have even become collectors' items. AAFES periodically introduces a new POG series with new designs that can be spent or collected. A quick Internet search reveals that several Cyber auction sites regularly put AAFES POGs up for bid.
Although POGs are used for 5, 10 and 25-cent denominations, it is not cost effective to produce penny POGs. As in Europe and the Pacific, where pennies are not available, AAFES (as a result of DoD directive) applies a rounding policy that rounds up or rounds down the cost of any cash purchase to the closest nickel.
Once purchases are totaled, AAFES rounds up prices of 3 or 4-cents and rounds down 1 and 2-cent totals. For example, if a cash purchase is $9.23, the total is rounded up to $9.25. If the total is $9.22, AAFES rounds down to $9.20. The variation of two cents on either side makes the rounding policy a virtual wash for the customer and AAFES. And, every penny spent at AAFES is returned to Morale, Welfare and Recreation dividends, capital improvements or new construction.
"AAFES' job in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom is the most important endeavor this organization has ever undertaken," said Lt. Col. Pressley. "PX/BX facilities, call centers and name brand fast food restaurants are not set up in dangerous and austere locations to improve someone's bottom line. With or without metal coins, AAFES and it associates continue to go to contingency locations in an effort to transform the war zone into a comfort zone."
The game of POGs originated in the 1920s on the Hawaiian island of Maui. There dairy workers played the game during breaks using simple milk caps. POGs stand for an acronym for a popular Hawaiian drink made from passion fruit, oranges and guava juices. The game is played with disc-like objects which have pictures on its face side. Mass appeal has followed since reintroduction of the game in the 1990s.