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Post script

By 1st Lt. Philippe Mouret
First published in
SFOR Informer#126, November 14, 2001

This week SFOR INFORMER ends its series dedicated to the military postal services of coalition nations.

Sarajevo - Unfortunately, we can't cover all of the 35 nations. We hope that the few we have covered will have allowed you to have a better understanding of the various ways the different post offices work, their similarities and their unique qualities.
"Post"
Cpl. Lars Sorensen mans the Danish Post Office ("Post"). You know this strapping fellow always wears his camouflage pair of shorts, in the rain, in the wind and, maybe, even in the snow? He deals with all of the mail of the Scandinavians who live in Sarajevo. That is, besides nationals of Denmark, also those of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. Some are from the International Police Task Force (IPTF). About twenty persons receive two or three letters a day. The main Scandinavian sorting office is in Doboj. With the Poles, they make up the Nordic Polish Battle Group (NPBG), which is deployed on the upper side of Multinational Division North (MND-N). There, WO2 Rolf Wesselhoft and Cpl. Soren Boll deal with the mail. Hundreds of letters leave every day and 300 arrive. It takes six days to reach their addressees through a civilian Austrian airline from Sarajevo to Copenhagen, via Vienna.
Sorensen goes to the airport six times a week. Doboj postmen come to Butmir. Mail weighing less than 20 grams is free to Denmark. Parcels are forwarded once a week by freight trucks. The route takes three days from Doboj to Denmark.
Sorensen is from the reserves. A postman in civilian life, it's already his seventh mission abroad. In 1991, he was in Kuwait, in 1994 and in 1995 in United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and hes finally completing his fifth tour with SFOR. For him, the difference with his work in Denmark is that "here mail is more important. Every time, when I come back from the airport people are waiting for me in front of the door."
"United States Military Postal Service"

Staff Sgt. W. Flowers commands the United States Military Postal Service (USMPS) in Butmir. He has under his command Specialists E. Collazo, B. Cutshall and J. Oneill. Eight hundred letters and parcels arrive and leave every week in six rotations.
A civilian transport company is in charge of the road link with the main sorting office, which is in Eagle Base in Tuzla, headquarters of United States Battle Group (USBG). A team of 13 persons manages the 1,250 letters and parcels weekly. A plane routes correspondence to the United States, via Germany, six times a week.
Priority mail and parcels reach their addressees in one or two weeks, economy mail in three weeks. Postage is free below 13 ounces (368,55 g).
The anthrax threat has imposed some precautions. Among others, postmen wear plastic gloves for any handling and sometimes masks. Security is now their priority.
Flowers is in the Reserves now, but he was in the regular Army for 12 years, a total of 20 years service. He was also a civilian postman. According to him: "It's a wonderful job, maintenance of bonds with families is very important. The work is the same as in civilian life, but here contacts are direct with addressees. We are closer."
"Ufficio Posta e Viaggi"
The Italian Post and Travel Office (Ufficio Posta e Viaggi) is in Tito Barracks, downtown Sarajevo. WO2 Gabrielle d'Angelo and Cpl. Alberto Turrini man it, respectively coming from 7th Alpine Regiment (7 Reggimento Alpini) and 8th Alpine Regiment (8 Reggimento Alpini) of Julia Alpine Brigade (Brigada Alpina Julia). They deal with all the mail of the Italian Battle Group (ITBG), deployed in the north of Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE), and with embassy correspondence too. That means more than 1,000 persons. So, it's 500 letters and 10 to 15 parcels that are sent and received once a week, thanks to an air link from Sarajevo to Rome. Distribution takes from 10 to 15 days. Mail to the Balkans is forwarded through the Bosnian post.
Postmen are also in charge of military travel documents for all soldiers.
D'Angelo explains that he works harder here because he manages the sending for all the ITBG instead of only for his regiment: "However, I have more satisfaction. Soldiers wait for mail more impatiently. Letters, e-mails and telephone are the only bonds with families in Italy." His recently arrived replacement, WO2 Filippo Not, agrees.
Turrini is a conscript. A volunteer for one year's military service, he enlisted before call-up and chose to come to BiH. He declares: "For me, the highest satisfaction is to announce to my mates they have mail." He has completed his political science studies and would like to become a journalist in the Army, in the Alpine Troops of course. His relief is ready to take-over.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Denmark, Italy, US