Garoua, Cameroon - After several months of planning and coordination across three continents, mail arrived May 1, 2016 for the approximately 200 Soldiers here assisting Cameroonians combat violent extremism.
Soldiers from the 16th Sustainment Brigade and 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command in Germany, assisted in the establishment of postal operations for personnel on mission here, mostly from the Fort Stewart, Georgia based 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
As soon as Soldiers on the ground received their addresses, they were ordering packages. Within a matter of weeks, thousands of pounds of mail were waiting for shipment from the United States via Germany to Cameroon.
Members of the postal team were just as eager for the mail to arrive as personnel on the ground.
"Although it has been approximately a year since I attended postal training at Fort Jackson, I am grateful for the opportunity to apply what I learned at the school house in a tactical environment," said Spc. Craig Hicks, a Soldier with 16th Sustainment Bde.
Setting up an Army Post Office is not as simple as it may seem. Intricate planning and intensive collaboration are essential throughout the process. Participatory agencies and organizations include U.S. Army Africa, U. S. Africa Command, the U.S. Postal Service, Military Postal Service and 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center in Germany. The APO in Garoua, Cameroon is only the second APO to be established on the continent of Africa, the other being Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. It is the first to be established for a non-enduring location.
Over 3,000 pounds of mail arrived in the first shipment via a U.S. Air Force C-130. In anticipation of this first shipment, a Postal Team from 21st TSC was on site to break down, process and pitch the mail accordingly. The process can be tedious, involving as it does the scanning of packages into the Automated Postal System and the minute triage of mail.
"We were able to process the mail and deliver it to the customer in record time," said Sgt. Davis Boggs, an acting Noncommissioned Officer in Charge with 16th Sustainment Bde. "We could not have done that without the help of volunteers and the cooperation of the personnel on the ground. It shows what team work can accomplish."
Soldiers stationed in Garoua, Cameroon provide non-lethal support to their Cameroonian hosts as part of U.S. Africa Command. At the request of the government of Cameroon, U.S. troops are providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance via unmanned aerial systems to assist Cameroon in defeating violent extremists.
"It was great to get a package from home and enjoy snacks that we can't get out here," said Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Kirven, a Soldier with 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "Even better was getting to see how happy the Soldiers were to get packages from loved ones and enjoying what came for them."