Security Procedures of the Military Postal System

LCD-79-214: Published: Apr 19, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 1979.

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A review of the Military Postal Service (MPS) revealed weaknesses in the procedures used to safeguard registered mail. The military services are not adequately controlling U.S. registered mail tendered to U.S. commercial air carriers at overseas aid terminals.

The present system permits registered mail, which may contain classified material up to and including SECRET documents, to be: (1) handled and controlled by foreign nationals; (2) passed from hand to hand without signature control for accountability; and (3) controlled under a system which does not permit timely verification of receipts and losses. The Assistant Secretary of Defense in October 1978 requested the Air Force, in coordination with other military departments, to ensure that military personnel are made available to observe the opening of aircraft cargo compartments and continuously maintain the containers carrying the registered mail under their direct, personal surveillance during the offloading and until the registered mail is transferred into the custody of MPS personnel. Military personnel are also to be made available at these same overseas locations to dispatch the registered mail addressed to addresses in the United States. The new procedures had not been implemented as of February 1979, however, primarily because MPS staffing is insufficient to perform the required surveillance. The procedures should, if properly implemented, help resolve the U.S. citizen control issue, even though lack of accountability and control difficulties will still remain.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the new procedures of placing U.S. registered mail under U.S. citizen control. The Secretary of Defense and the Postmaster General, in consultation with U.S. commercial airlines, should seek cost-effective ways to strengthen controls and accountability for registered mail. Consideration should be given to: (1) requiring that registered mail be transported to, from, and between overseas locations in security containers; (2) instituting a system of hand-to-hand receipt between military officials and commercial carriers of registered mail; and (3) establishing a rapid communications system between those locations that receive and dispatch registered mail, thereby facilitating the early verification of receipts and the detection of losses.

    Agency Affected:


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