Talking to Soldiers
Ways to Communicate
Calling Cards: Iraq
Calling Cards: Afghanistan
Calling Cards: Kuwait
Iraq Phone Home Cards
Afghan Phone Home Cards
Kuwait Phone Home Cards
GSM World Cell Phones
SIM Cards: Iraq
SIM Cards: Afghanistan
SIM Cards: Kuwait
Using VoIP in Iraq
Video IM Calls in Iraq
Ways to Communicate With a Soldier in Iraq
There are a number of ways to stay in contact with a deployed soldier overseas. Some methods that utilize the Internet are non-secure from a security standpoint and so may not be allowed at a particular location in Iraq.
Postal MailYou just need to know the APO AE address of the soldier in Iraq. Letters and packages sent to an APO AE address actually go to New York, which means you pay domestic mail rates instead of international rates. Mail is then sent via the Army Postal Service once it leaves the country. Expect packages to take 10 - 20 days to arrive, depending on time of year.
For more information on sending a package to Iraq or Afghanistan, see How To Ship a Package to Iraq or Afghanistan and US Postal Service APO Shipping FAQ.
Quite a few soldiers also bring their personal laptops to Iraq. Because of the heat and dusty conditions in Iraq, a semi-rugged laptop is more reliable during longer deployments. Same applies to digital cameras in Iraq, the ones designed as water-resistant, shock-resistant and dust-resistant work longer. For more info, see ruggedized gear for Iraq or Afghanistan.
PhoneThere are a number of DSN (Defense Switched Network) phone centers and AT&T phone tents located throughout U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. A soldier is usually allowed free 15-minute "morale calls" to call family back home. How it works is that the call is placed to an Army base nearest to the family, which is usually a local call. Soldiers can also use low-cost prepaid phone calling cards to call back home.
In addition, soldiers may also be allowed to use a personal GSM cell phone or satellite phone to call back home. Since the per-minute charges can be pretty steep, soldiers often quickly call family back home and then the family member uses a cheap international prepaid phone card to call the soldier back on his cell. Often there is no charge for incoming calls if using a local cell carrier such as IraqNA.
VoIPVoIP (voice-over Internet protocol) offers a really low-cost way to communicate back home. The MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) centers often provide "Spawar" setups which are USB Internet phones or headsets plugged into computers running Skype to call a phone (or a computer if so equipped) back home. For more info, see Using a VOIP Internet Phone in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Video Teleconferencing (VTC)Secure, dedicated video conferencing systems are available at Family Readiness Centers on U.S. posts to allow family members to engage in real-time video calls at various times. These are sophisticated setups that run on secure military networks. You need to live next to an Army post to use these.
Webcam & Video Instant MessagingSoldiers used to be able to use Yahoo, AOL and MSN IM programs to setup video chat sessions with webcams on either end to communicate with families back home but that is being restricted in more locations now due to security concerns. For more info, see Setting Up Video Instant Messaging in Iraq or Afghanistan.
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