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Greg Mackessy, director of postal operations in South Korea, shows how one new type of scanner will be used to track certain types of accountable mail coming into country.

Greg Mackessy, director of postal operations in South Korea, shows how one new type of scanner will be used to track certain types of accountable mail coming into country. (Jeremy Kirk / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — New scanners will allow faster, automated tracking of packages coming into the country through the military postal system, according to U.S. Forces Korea’s top postal officer.

Postal clerks are using bar code scanners at Gimpo Airport and at five Army post office locations in South Korea to scan certain types of incoming accountable mail, said Gregory Mackessy, director of the Army’s postal operations in South Korea. The scanners, budgeted by the military, also will be used at camps Walker, Humphreys, Yongsan, Red Cloud and Casey.

“We were looking for a way to improve our manpower utilization as well as improve the tracking of accountable mail in theater,” Mackessy said.

Previously, postal personnel wrote down accountable mail tracking numbers on U.S. Postal Service forms, a time-consuming and error-prone process, Mackessy said. That system made it more difficult to find out at which point a package may have been lost.

Now, postal clerks will be able to check, for example, if a missing package bound for Camp Casey made it to Gimpo. If it did, the officials know it went missing between the airport and the camp, Mackessy said.

“Then we know we have a disconnect in-country,” he said.

The equipment also will be used to scan Express and delivery confirmation mail not in a mail bag, Mackessy said. When those bags are opened and Express or delivery confirmation mail is found, a new, different set of scanners will be used to scan smaller items, he said.

The Military Postal Service Agency recently provided 17 hand-held scanners, which look similar to those used by gate guards to scan identification cards. These scanners allow officials here to send incoming Express Mail tracking numbers daily to San Francisco once the information is downloaded.

“It will be almost instantaneous,” Mackessy said. Previously, Express mail label receipts were mailed to San Francisco for input into a database.

Mackessy said his office is looking to see if the scanners can be configured to scan all types of accountable mail, which would include certified, insured and registered mail.

Other postal improvements include an X-ray machine at Yongsan Garrison’s post office, purchased with force protection funds. The machine allows officials to scan mail that may be suspicious before calling explosive ordnance disposal, Mackessy said. Four other smaller X-ray machines have been placed in other Army post offices in South Korea, Mackessy said.

Sometimes battery-powered items in packages will turn on in transit. Vibrating packages make postal people nervous, and EOD and other emergency officials are called four or five times year for inspections, Mackessy said.

Mackessy said the post office is also advising people not to mail items such as Japanese swords to South Korea, as the customs office has been seizing them. It is against the rules to mail similar weapons, too, he said.

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