Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment provides the best American entertainment to U.S. troops and family members stationed overseas, prioritizing remote and isolated locations, ships at sea and contingency operations.
AFE is an Air Force command, but it brings entertainment to members of all five branches of the armed forces. It often provides transportation and logistical support for the USO, which also brings celebrities to troops.
Air Force Col. Kenneth Marshall, AFE’s chief, discussed how his civilian and military staff work together to boost the morale of service members and their families at overseas locations:
1. Entertainers, like comedians, singers, athletes and Hollywood figures, volunteer to entertain service members and their families.
2. All AFE shows are live and are free to service members and their families.
3. Every year, there are around 500 shows and performances that go out to about 200 military installations, reaching about 430,000 service members and their families.
4. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are on the staff of AFE. These personnel are dedicated to the Defense Department mission, Marshall said.
5. The USO also hosts entertainers. The difference between AFE and the USO is that the USO is a private, nonprofit organization.
6. In 2019, AFE initiated a program called “Replay.” This program recognizes entertainers who have repeatedly come back to support AFE’s efforts.
7. The busiest times of the year for AFE is during the Super Bowl and on holidays — particularly Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day. “We target those days because it gives troops a taste of home and lets them know they’re not forgotten,” Marshall said.