WASHINGTON, DC -- Defense officials have reportedly asked the Defense Commissary Agency to develop a plan to close all U.S. commissaries, according to a report in the Military Times Friday.

According to their source, a meeting was held within the last few weeks and was part of preparations for the fiscal 2015 DoD budget request that is due out in February.

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'The commissary continues to be one of the most valued non-pay compensation benefits our military members, past and present, and their families enjoy,' Defense Commissary Agency director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu told Congress recently.

Calling the commissary benefit an 'integral element of the total compensation package,' Jeu said it saves patrons about 30 percent compared to commercial supermarkets. That equates to about $1,500 a year for a single service member who consistently uses the commissary and as much as $4,500 for an average family of four, he said.

The Military Times reports that if the DeCA has been asked to prepare a draft plan, it does not mean commissaries would close anytime soon.

Even if such a plan was included in the defense budget request for fiscal 2015, it would have to be approved by Congress.

DeCA has 178 commissaries in the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii. Almost 70 stores operate overseas. Operating costs for the overseas stores account for 35 percent of DeCA's budget and 16 percent of total worldwide sales, the paper reports.

Jue testified with other senior defense officials who urged Congress to preserve military exchange and commissary services they call key to the morale and quality of life of service members and their families.

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