‘Hooah Mail’

What could be faster than sending letters via snail mail? It's coming on 1 December!

Hooah! Postal service to speed up for Soldiers

Snail mail going to people deployed to Afghanistan could flow a little quicker starting next month.

The U.S. Army is spending $500,000 to launch HooahMail, a service starting Dec. 1 in which family and friends can send letters electronically to anyone serving in Afghanistan, Bill Hilsher, the Army’s postal program manager, said.

Participants can register immediately online to have some personal letters delivered in as little as 24 hours – a far cry from the roughly 14 days it now can take, Hilsher said. And it’s free.

Here’s how it works: Family and friends set up an account viaHOOAH MAIL and enter the recipient’s information and downrange mailing address. With the push of the “send” button, encrypted letters are sent to the servers of designated machines in one of 10 locations in Afghanistan. At least once a day, Army postal clerks switch on the machines, which print, fold and seal the letters in addressed envelopes for delivery through the in-country military postal system.

“At no time while the postal soldier is downloading the message can the message be read,” ensuring privacy, Hilsher said. Writers can also send one photograph, which will be printed in black and white.

The machines, at 220-pounds, can be airdropped to any site. They will be placed at Bagram and Kandahar air fields, and the remote outposts of Forward Operating Bases Najil, Mace, Zio Haq, Carwile, Sweeney and Bushmaster. Two more will be placed at bases yet to be determined.

Apart from the main hubs of Bagram and Kandahar, Army officials selected the bases where troops were “having the most difficulty getting traditional mail, or FOBS that don’t have Internet cafes or only one or two Internet connections … used for missions only,” Hilsher said.

The system could reduce delivery time in some cases from two weeks to same- or next-day service, with an average of four days to all other locations in Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Charles Moose, spokesman for U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

The Army’s HooahMail follows a similar program, calledMoto Mail (short for Motivational Mail), which the U.S. Marine Corps started in 2004 for its servicemembers deployed to Iraq.

Hilsher couldn’t say why it’s taken the Army so long to follow suit, other than to say that the Army’s program has been in the planning stages for two years.

“The Army is much larger with a lot more troops,” Hilsher said. “We’re coming onboard with it now.”

There are no plans to introduce the service for Army troops in Iraq.

HooahMail is a one-way service from family and friends to soldiers, Moose said. Troops in Afghanistan won’t be able to use the system to send letters home.

About the Author

Love My Tanker

I am an Active Duty Army Wife. I have enjoyed living in the US and overseas. I have volunteered in many realms over the years with various FRGs, Sew Much Comfort and a Wounded Warrior Equine Therapy program. I consider myself lucky to have been a part of the SpouseBUZZ family since 2006.

I homeschool my children and continue to love volunteering when time allows. The Army life is a busy life, but a good life!

  • Thanks for this great information! I can appreciate the military trying to keep a connection between Soldiers and their families. However, I can’t say I trust that no one’s eyes would see the letters. I’m sure many of us send some pretty personal information in our letters, and would hate for anyone other than our own Soldier to read it. But again, it’s a great service!

  • Guard Wife

    That’s awesome!
    LMS, I think it sounds like these machines print, fold and stuff the letter in an envelope. I think it occurs before the letter comes out of the machine? At least that’s how I read it. :)
    This would be a great way to send that exciting info that can’t wait!

  • Onward and upward patriots! All America loves you and wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and a safe journey through your remaining tour and the trip home to loved ones.
    With thanks and appreciation,
    Anaida Krok http://www.stopbirdporn.org