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Mail control activity ramps up for the holidays

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Monica Roybal
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The holiday season typically gives way to a more relaxed environment as the year comes to an end and everyone looks forward to spending time with loved ones, but for U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron mail control activity unit, the holiday season means they are about to kick it into high gear. 

The team manages all inbound and outbound mail at Kuwait International Airport’s Joint Military Mail Terminal and processes nearly two million pounds of mail during the year’s final quarter. 

“We are the primary gateway of all the mail for the Kuwait (area of responsibility) and our team is the physical presence here to provide the security and integrity for the mail,” said Tech. Sgt. Max Gomez, 386th EFSS MCA chief. “We are (command support staff) Airmen who typically work with commanders, first shirts and command chiefs at our home stations to help facilitate their missions, but now we’re applying those skills and level of quality to foreign interactions in an operational realm.”

The MCA team consists of seven Airmen who ensure safe and consistent mail delivery to Camp Arifjan, which is then delivered to six post offices, including Camp Buehring, Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Ali Al Salem Air Base, U.S. Navy Battle groups and the U.S. Embassy. They are responsible for secure mail processing practices while also acting as armed forces ambassadors to local and other country national workers at the terminal. 

“We are the first Americans most of the OCN’s have met,” Gomez explained. “We have to work to bridge the gap in communication due to a language barrier and building that rapport with everyone here has accelerated our processes tenfold.”

Gomez said the work dynamic is key to successfully executing their mission since the MCA team is considered mission-essential and must operate seven days a week processing customs documentation for all U.S. military and Department of Defense mail, identifying irregularities and monitoring handlers. 

While secure mail practices remain their priority, the team must also maintain safe driving measures and strict sleep discipline as they commute more than 5,000 miles per month. The odd terminal operation hours require constant vigilance when it comes to their commute. 

“Safety is paramount for our team, especially with us having to commute overnight,” Gomez explained. “We can’t be tired all the time, we have to stay aware and vigilant of anything out of the ordinary along the way.”

According to Staff Sgt. Ryan Robinson, 386th EFSS MCA operations supervisor, this duty is a great learning opportunity for CSS Airmen as they will only have the opportunity to be part of a team like this when they are assigned overseas. 

“I think this is a unique opportunity to experience other cultures and see their work ethic,” Robinson said. “Everyone we work with is so accepting of different cultures and we all respect each other. It makes accomplishing our mission so much easier and we enjoy coming to work.”

So when your holiday care packages arrive at your office, know that it has been well-vetted and secured by a small team of Airmen working in the shadows and behind the scenes.