Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, an installation located just south of the equator in the Indian Ocean, is technically a British Ministry of Defence facility on lease to the United States. This isolated base serves a vital purpose for America’s presence in the region, providing logistical support for operational forces deployed throughout the region, including those serving in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Important as this facility may be, its remote location means the base lacks many of the creature comforts you might find on other American military bases.
Diego Garcia offers no malls or department stores, for instance, leaving Sailors stationed on Diego Garcia to rely on the mail for just about anything they need. For most service members, that ever-important mail call serves as lifeline to the world at large, but for the Sailors tasked with receiving, sorting, and delivering all that mail, Diego Garcia is no quiet assignment. With the base relying on them, the Logistics Specialists are not only responsible for helping their peers receive those creature comforts, they’re also indirectly responsible for morale.
“By ensuring that personnel on the island receive their mail we raise the spirits, for what to many, can be an otherwise challenging time period of isolated duty,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Apprentice Marcus Garcia. “It is our own way of contributing to the overall morale of our Sailors during their time on Diego Garcia.”
Because of the installation’s remote location, mail arrives at somewhat unusual intervals. That means that on some weeks, no aircraft arrive at all to deliver mail, while on others, the Logistics Specialists on Diego Garcia are burdened with more than 20,000 pounds worth of letters and packages.
This would be a challenge for any mail room, but the difficulties increase because of the political climate of the island. Not only does Garcia and his peers need to make sure all U.S. postal laws are adhered to, they also have to ensure they stick to the customs regulations tied to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) the base is on.
“Each postal worker has their own role to play on island,” Garcia told Petty Officer 3rd Class Gillian Grady. “Whether it is registered mail or working the front desk or teaching new mail orderlies how to pick up their commands’ packages, we all contribute to the mission.”
Feature photo courtesy of Sarah E. Shaw, U.S. Air Force