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Scott Airmen deliver

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brian Davidson
  • Scott Antiterrorism Office
A small, seldom noticed team of Scott Airmen stands as the first-line of defense against terrorist threats while performing a function vital to Defense Department missions world-wide.

The 375th Communications Squadron Official Mail Center is responsible for processing and delivering letters and packages to more than 80 distribution offices, servicing more than 13,500 duty sections throughout Joint Total Force Scott.

This eight-Airman team is charged with protecting their customers from countless forms of mail-based threats including letter and package bombs as well as chemical and biological agents.

"Handling all of Scott's official mail is a critical part of both force protection and supporting the mission," said Master Sgt. Jerome Hayes, 375th CS Electronic Communication Flight NCO in charge. "Every single piece of mail receives priority handling in order to safely and quickly get it from the sender to the intended recipient."

Sergeant Hayes also explained that due to the unique nature of the official mail mission, Airmen must learn the process through hands-on training that isn't learned through technical school or career development courses.

"Most people understand that our Security Forces Airmen are charged with protecting the base from both the criminal-minded and from terrorist activities," said Tim West, Scott antiterrorism officer. "But the potential for mail-based attack is something that many people don't even consider. Information is readily available through the internet that makes it easy to inexpensively manufacture and deploy explosive devices through the mail, and the Official Mail Center is responsible for countering that threat."

Mr. West also explained that mail screening procedures at Scott have evolved into a valuable tool in overall force protection due to the efforts of current mail center leadership.

"Mail center Airmen have to become experts in operating highly technical and sensitive screening equipment," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Cottoner, Official Mail Center NCO in charge. "These are the tools that we use to defeat most forms of mail-based threats, but it also takes vigilance and unwavering attention to detail to identify subtle clues to potential threats in the vast amount of mail delivered every day."

The mail center team starts each duty day screening 100 percent of incoming mail through their specialized equipment, and each piece of mail is individually handled and scrutinized before being sorted into delivery areas.

"Every piece of mail receives 'special attention,'" said Airman 1st Class DeHui Yu, Official Mail Center team member. "We handle each letter and package many times in the inspection, sorting and delivery process."

The Scott standard is 100 percent screening and delivery accuracy, and all aspects of each Airman's performance are expected to meet that standard.

"The official mail team is made up of Airmen from the Information Management specialty who are assigned to the flight as their first duty section after technical school," Sergeant Cottoner said. "This allows them to learn about the over-all base mission and the importance of their role in accomplishing that mission."

Sergeant Cottoner has developed a comprehensive training program for his Airmen that gives them an advantage in career progression as well as complete their upgrade training and career development course.

"It's not just a matter of teaching them to accomplish tasks," he explained. "It's about giving them the tools to accomplish the mail center mission while fully preparing them to move on to other aspects of their career field."

While most Scott members don't give much thought to what it takes to get official mail delivered safely, quickly and accurately, mail center Airmen quickly learn that their daily responsibilities contribute directly to the success and security of the Defense Department mission.