Letters precious to U.S. troops in Afghan outposts

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jul 23, 2009.

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  1. Letters precious to U.S. troops in Afghan outposts
    U.S. troops warned Afghanistan is not Iraq -- where communication is easier
    Troops in Afghan outposts communicate with loved ones by snail mail
    "Handwriting and perfume -- you can't get through the phone or e-mail"

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As more U.S. troops head to Afghanistan, more families back home long to hear from their loved ones in uniform.

    But the nature of the battle in Afghanistan makes that much harder now than it has been for troops serving in Iraq. Instead of near instant contact through e-mail, texts or even video conference calls, families back home often have to rely on something that once was rare: hand-written letters.

    "Can you imagine we're going back to paper and pen. It's so weird to write an actual letter but that's what we have to do," Gia Ellis told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence during a visit to Camp Lejeune Marine Base in North Carolina last week.

    The problem is two-fold: tactics and infrastructure, according to Marine spokesman Capt. Bill Pelletier, who is currently serving in Southern Afghanistan.

    The new commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan is sending units out into remote villages to defend the locals from Taliban attacks. Rarely do those villages have modern communications systems. Some units have a satellite phones but the demand on the phones makes it hard for troops to use them to call home. Watch reporter on move with U.S. troops »

    "Personally I was spoiled last year," said Ellis, whose husband Jason served last year in Iraq and is currently in Afghanistan. "We could talk and see each other on webcam and e-mail almost every day. And this year with the initial push into Afghanistan it's completely different."

    Some wives become news junkies, combing through news reports from the field hoping to learn more about their husbands or at least his unit.

    "Because we're not getting the e-mails, it means a lot just to even try to find a picture, get a glimpse of them," said Melissa Pullen.
    More on the link

  2. Just how long does it take to get letters and parcels to UK troops? Is any serving member able to say?
  3. depends where they are. FOB's can wait a bloody long time.

    Interesting article though, and on a side bar. I think a bluey is better than an e-mail its just so much more personal.
  4. Correct, it depends on whether transport is available and has spare capacity. Mail is, often rightly, a lower priority on SH than other cargo such as people and CSups. Interestingly, the answer is not necessarily to increase SH as priorities would remain the same and we would simply do more (and thereby correspondingly increasing the requirement to move people and CSups).

    Often the mail will arrive in Bastion (that's the easy bit over) and move straight out to a FOB within 48 hours and only once it has been sorted by an individual Unit's UPO (Bastion to FOB is First Line (ie, QM to Sub-Unit)). However, if no SH is going to a particular FOB for a few days, the mail will usually have to wait in any case.
  5. CountryGal

    CountryGal LE Book Reviewer

    Thats a hard one, on one hand you want to know that your loved one is safe and well and being used to the luxury of email, you forget the extra effort needed to write even a couple of letters a week, though Im guessing the tangible paper that can be re-read over and over if you need a boost would be welcome too.

    I'd prolly use a bit of both, a ebluey for a quick I miss you, then a letter to send as well.
  6. Even soldiers stationed at Hadrians wall used Vindolanda Writing Tablets (army supply) in Roman Britian to write home.

    'The Vindolanda Tablets are small sheets of wood which Roman soldiers used as "postcards" or letters home. These shards of brittle wood are as important to historians as any pristine statue or other monument.

    Now known as the Vindolanda Writing Tablets - after the Roman Fort where they were found - the more than 1,000 pieces of birch, alder and oak give an unparalleled, moving and often very funny insight into the life of the Roman soldier stuck miles from home at the turn of the 2nd Century.

    The funniest letter is a simple list of the clothes sent from the warm south to a poor frozen Roman: "Paria udonum ab Sattua solearum duo et subligariorum duo." Or - socks, two pairs of sandals and two pairs of underpants.'