Armed Forces Marketing Council

Strategic Engagement in support of Military Resale

The Armed Forces Marketing engages leaders in Congress, at the Department of Defense, and with Veterans and Military Support Organizations and the media to ensure awareness of issues pertaining to military commissaries and exchanges.

Congressional Testimony


Views on Commissary Reform

  • House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee
  • Wednesday, January 13, 2016
  • Testimony

Other Testimony

  • House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, November 20, 2013
  • House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, June 7, 2012


History of Military Resale

On June 17, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted Articles of War, which included all of the British Army regulations, including those which allowed civilians to sell provisions to soldiers.  Thus began America's effort to care for and supply our troops through their personal resources.

These merchants, known as sutlers, would follow the Continental Army, making as much money as possible supplying soldiers with "basic" items, such as fruits, vegetables, candy, tobacco, soap, shoes and boots.  Bumboats provided the same service for sailors and Marines aboard ships.  

The quality of the products was inferior and the prices were expensive.  However, these services were a necessary evil due to sparse rations provided by the military.

This abusive practice remained until July 1, 1867, when a law passed by Congress went into effect that abolished sutlers and established Sales Commissaries to provide "sutlery" items for sale to men of all ranks.

Since that time, the military resale system has evolved into a global enterprise supporting our men and women in uniform and their families, at bases at home and abroad, including areas of conflict like Iraq and Afghanistan, by providing quality, brand-name products at low prices.  

Having become one of the top quality of life benefits earned by today's military families, military resale supports retention and military readiness, while holding down taxpayer costs.


The military resale system is governed by Title 10, Section 147 of the U.S. Code.  The law establishes the organization and oversight of the systems, directs operations, and places limits on the types of merchandise that can be sold.