Unit Issues Mail Guidance for Redeploying Troops
By Staff Sgt. Nate Orme, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Jan. 9, 2004 The Army's 3rd Personnel Command has issued guidance to redeploying troops about redirecting their mail for a smooth, timely transition to their home-bound addresses.
The unit manages postal operations in the Operation Iraqi Freedom theater, and has provided procedures to be followed by soldiers, mail clerks and commanders to ensure mail is properly channeled.
The Defense Department is in the process of bringing home 130,000 service members and pieces of equipment numbering in the tens of thousands from Iraq, replacing them with 110,000 soldiers and Marines and fresh equipment. Service members heading home can help to minimize the logistical strain on the military mail system that the redeployment presents. So troops leaving the theater should tell family, friends and correspondents to stop sending them mail, said Lt. Col. Robert Howard, 3rd PERSCOM's postal operations director.
"The military mail system will be taxed heavily during this redeployment period," he said. "On an average, each soldier redeploying will be mailing out two to three personal packages home. The reduction in redirected mail will only benefit the overall military mail system." Howard also said the same standards apply to deploying service members entering the OIF theater.
Redeploying service members need to complete change-of-address cards. One card is retained by the servicing mail clerk, and one goes to the servicing Army Post Office, or APO.
Service members also should notify all correspondents family, friends, financial institutions, periodical mailers etc. to stop sending their mail into the theater at least 15 days, and preferably 30 days, before their units move from base camps to their redeployment sites. They will not be able to receive mail at the sites; however, postal services will be available to send mail.
Unit commanders should inform home station mail rooms to stop forwarding mail to the theater APO and start holding it for returning service members. Unit mail clerks in theater will provide the supporting theater APO with the unit's forwarding home address. If mail clerks receive mail for people already redeployed, they will forward it to the address on the change-of-address card.
Mail will be forwarded for 60 days by either the APO or a forward mail clerk. Ideally, that would be 30 days before the individual's redeployment date and 30 days after, officials said. After 60 days, mail is either returned to sender or disposed of in accordance with the DoD Postal Manual.
Service members mailing items from the theater before redeploying should mark parcels and letters "MPS" for free delivery of nonvaluable items. There is no reimbursement for lost or damaged items marked "MPS." Service members should insure items of valuable or use registered mail, officials said.
Items such as expended or unexpended explosives, certain war souvenirs and ammunition can't be mailed. Mailing military equipment such as rucksacks and duffel bags also is prohibited.
The maximum for packages mailing is 70 pounds, and they must measure no more than 138 inches in combined length and girth. When mailing to an APO address, the country name, such as Germany or Italy, should not be used in the address.
Officials said service members with questions should contact their unit mail clerk, their servicing APO or the3rd PERSCOM Postal Operations Directorate at DSN 318-825-1208.
(Army Staff Sgt. Nate Orme is assigned to 3rd Personnel Command public affairs.)