YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Ration control procedures topped the agenda at the quarterly Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Defense Commissary Service council.

The ration control program, Governed by U.S. Forces Korea Regulation 60-1, is designed to give all customers equal opportunity to purchase items and to restrict the amount of items purchased to prevent black-marketing.

"We came here to share information and address issues regarding AAFES and DeCA," said Col. Dave Hall, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Commander, during his opening remarks to the council meeting May 2. "We want to discuss how to improve their services and also share great things they have done for community members."

Ricky Oxendine, director of Emergency Services, explained the ration control system to the council.

"How much you are authorized to purchase in Commissary is based on your family size. This is all dependent upon everyone being identified in the Defense Biometric Identification System, or DBIDS," Oxendine explained. "Based on your family size, the Ration Control Card issued to you will tell you exactly what amount you can purchase."

The ration control system in the Commissary establishes monthly dollar and alcohol limits that reflect each person's family size. For instance, a family size of two has an $850 limit.

Every purchase in the Commissary is recorded in a real-time system based on a shopper's identification number. The Commissary system sends information to a database called the Personal Information Management System Korea. "This system automatically generates a violation notice if you exceed your purchase limit," Oxendine said.

Food items and duty-free goods in the Commissary can't be purchased as gifts.

At the Main Exchange, only high-value items such as TVs, computers and furniture are recorded in the ration control system, with no dollar limits.

Shoppers are also allowed to buy small gifts as long as they meet certain criteria.

"If you want to purchase a number of items as a gift, as long as your gifts are under $50 and they are not considered high-value items, you are authorized to make that kind of purchase," Oxendine said.

In addition, ration limits restrict purchasing a maximum of three of the same high-value item. Cosmetics, select health and beauty aids and select wines are some of the high-value, high-demand items.

Tobacco and alcohol products cannot be purchased as gifts.

After the council meeting, the members visited the Main Exchange. Shawn Dorcy, AAFES general manager, gave a tour of the different sections in the store.

"The council members asked about questions like how fashion clothing is ordered and whether there is an opportunity to work as an online partnership," Dorcy said. "I also talked about the trend in electronics and wireless technologies. We limit the purchase of items to three, but our goal is to give all our customers an opportunity to make a purchase of items they need."

Staff Sgt. Cory Barnes, of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation at K-16 Air Base, attended the council meeting. "I learned that there is a lot involved in the marketing, strategies for AAFES and why they have selections they have, and financial difficulties they have and different selections of items," he said.

Shoppers who wish to purchase over ration control limits at the PX or Commissary can request an exception to policy through their command channels. It must be submitted at least three weeks before the desired purchase date.

The ration control office is located in Bldg 4305, the USAG-Yongsan headquarters building. For information, call 738-4612.