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AAFES exchanges military commander for civilian CEO

DALLAS — Three weeks after being named the first civilian director/CEO in the nearly 117-year history of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Tom Shull officially took the reins today of the $10-billion military retailer. Shull replaced the Exchange’s last uniformed Commander, Brig. Gen. Fran Hendricks.

With the official signing of the paperwork today, the Exchange has been disestablished as a major command and remains a joint nonappropriated fund instrumentality of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force under the jurisdiction of the chief of staff of the U.S. Army and the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.

Shull, a West Point graduate who received a Harvard University MBA, served in a variety of positions in the U.S. Army, including infantry company commander and assignments at the White House and National Security Council. He has served as CEO of Wise Foods, Hanover Direct, Barney’s New York and was most recently CEO of Meridian Ventures.
 
Shull will work with an executive team led by the Exchange’s COO Mike Howard. Howard has been instrumental in maintaining continuity since March 2011 when the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on “Track Four Efficiency Initiatives Decisions” that were “designed to reduce duplication, overhead and excess, and instill a culture of savings and cost accountability across the Department of Defense.” In accordance with this memo, the Exchange was directed to convert the commanding general’s position from that of a Major General to a senior executive service civilian.

The Exchange, ranked 43rd in the National Retail Federation’s Top 100 retailers in the United States based on dollar sales, is responsible for more than 3,100 facilities worldwide in more than 30 countries, five U.S. territories and 50 states. The Exchange operates 180 main stores and more than 2,000 fast food restaurants, and also provides military communities with convenience, specialty stores and movie theaters on installations worldwide.

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