Friday, February 23, 2007

Change shortage in Iraq and Kuwait

The change in my pocket when I arrived home from Iraq & Kuwait.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - In Iraq and Kuwait there is a shortage of US coins, and so AAFES (the Army & Air Force Exchange Service), has taken to issuing it's own US currency, in the form of "gift certificates".

When you make a purchase of at the PX, or McDonalds, or Green Bean Coffee, or any other entity on a US military installation that accepts cash, you get these paper coins as change. They are printed on a heavy gloss card stock, and are about the size of a US fifty cent piece.

Occasionally, you get real US coins as change, but it's pretty rare. I would be curious to know how much of this "money" AAFES is printing, and what percentage of it disappears into the lint screens of the industrial dryers of the Army bulk laundry system.

The coins have a large number on one side, and a photograph on the other. There seem to be a lot of different versions. In the photo above there is a dime with Richard Nixon and a nickel with Chuck Yeager, as well as other more modern images with military themes. I wonder if there will be any coin collector interest in these?

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Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)

Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: