Troops got mail. A Marine Corps unit in Kuwait has been testing free Internet mail service this month.

Family members and friends of troops stationed in Kuwait with the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force'Maritime Prepositioning Force exchanged free e-letters with their loved ones via

Users sent the letters through the Web service of Inc. of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. After a letter has been keyed in on the Web site, it is routed to a terminal in Kuwait, printed and sent via standard postal delivery.

The Corps is deciding whether to keep the service and expand it to all deployed Marines, said Maj. Craig E. Stephens at Camp Lejeune, N.C., who helped spearhead the initiative.

The Corps must determine whether or not to charge users, Stephens said. He said the fee would likely be no more than 20 cents a letter.

Where are they? About 300,000 of roughly 1.2 million National Guard and Reserve personnel have gone on active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but the Defense Department cannot track them efficiently, according to a recent General Accounting Office report.

In the report, GAO said the Global Status of Resources and Training System'DOD's primary automated readiness reporting system'fails to track personnel adequately for the small units that are typically deployed.

Incompatibilities between the military services' active duty and reserve systems also make ad hoc coordination necessary, GAO found.

'The services' active and reserve components have developed their respective computerized systems ... but they are often unable to directly transfer information between their systems,' the report said.

Missing parts. Faulty internal controls in an Air Force system that monitors the foreign sale of military spare parts and services could let unauthorized governments obtain classified items, GAO also recently reported.

The Air Force has not tested the Security Assistance Management Information System since 1998 to ensure that it is working correctly, nor has it validated modifications to the system, GAO said.

From 1990 through 2001, the military services delivered more than $138 billion in services and parts to foreign nations. A review of sales between October 1997 and July 2002 found 525 out of 72,057 requisitions violated DOD policy.

'Foreign country requisitions for classified and controlled spare parts were erroneously approved' by SAMIS based on incorrect data, the GAO report said.


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