MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — A new automated tracking system being implemented at military post offices in U.S. Pacific Air Forces is expected to decrease the chances of mail being lost and improve how mail is processed.

Unclaimed packages could also be returned to the sender after a period of two weeks or more.

Developed by the company A2B, Trackpad was originally used by United Parcel Service to track parcels worldwide, according to the U.S. Air Force.

Osan Air Base, South Korea, in July was the first in PACAF to use the system, which was also recently launched at Misawa.

Master Sgt. Garrick Wimbush of the 35th Communications Squadron and Misawa’s post master, said Kunsan; Yokota Air Base, Japan, and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, are also implementing the program.

The system was first tested in 2001 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, according to an Air Force news release.

Through use of barcodes, a handheld computer and database, postal clerks can view whether a customer has any parcels awaiting receipt, where they’re located and how long they’ve been sitting there, according to an Air Force news release.

Notification slips for mailboxes will be printed out, saving clerks from having to write out the slips or decipher another’s handwriting. It also reduces the likelihood of a slip being placed in the wrong mailbox, according to Air Force officials.

As part of the new program, notification slips in customer mailboxes will either read “first” or “final” notice. The initial notice is placed in a mailbox as soon as a package is processed, while final notice is given after a box goes five days without being claimed, Wimbush said.

If a package is not picked up 10 days after that, “we’ll try to contact you,” either via e-mail or through one’s unit or first sergeant, Wimbush said.

If after all means are exhausted the customer cannot be reached, the package will be returned to sender, Wimbush said.

For airmen who deploy and put their mail on hold, Wimbush said to contact their first shirt if their return date gets delayed.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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