SEMBACH, Germany -- U.S. Army Col. Scott McFarland assumed command of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's Europe/Southwest Asia region during a July 13 ceremony.
As commander, McFarland is responsible for Exchange operations and support throughout Europe, including countries at the tip of the spear such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, are within his area of responsibility as well. In all, the Exchange provides critical support and a taste of home to more than 360,000 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors in 25 countries in the Europe/Southwest Asia region--including remote, austere locations.
"I truly feel honored and humbled as I accept the responsibility of Command and join the team," McFarland said. "Many organizations fear transitions as they can lead to challenges and turmoil. The Exchange is not one of those organizations. With its 'we go where you go' motto, the Exchange has embraced those challenges head on for 122 years."
Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull presided as the colors were passed from Col. Geoff De Tingo, Exchange Europe/SWA commander since 2014, to McFarland. Shull praised De Tingo's fortification of relationships with U.S. Army-Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Installation Management Command, the Department of State and other key partners.
"For three years, Geoff has been a transformational leader in the Exchange family," Shull said. "His keen ability to build relationships with strategic partners to support Soldiers and Airmen has made an indelible impact on our critical mission."
McFarland joins the team as the Exchange ramps up support at the tip of the spear in Eastern Europe, including operations in Poland and Romania. A troop store at Zagan and a mobile field exchange (MFE) in Powitz, bring drinks, snacks, supplies and other tastes of home to U.S. and multinational troops supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve. An MFE at Bemowo Piskie Training Area supports NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence in Poland.
Since late June, the Exchange's Europe team has deployed an MFE to Cincu, Romania, to support U.S. and multinational forces participating in Saber Guardian 17, a training exercise in Eastern Europe involving 25,000 military personnel from 20 countries.
At the same time, the Exchange has increased its support in Iraq. Just three years ago, the Exchange had no presence in Iraq. Now, the Department of Defense retailer supports troops with eight locations--the most recent one opened in June.
"No matter the leadership transitions, geographic or logistics challenges, or supporting through the ambiguity of war, the Exchange always prevails in its mission to make the lives of Soldiers and Airmen better," McFarland said. "I promise to give my all to the team to meet the tough challenges that lie ahead."