Defense Courier Division
The United States Transportation Command Defense Courier Division provides secure, timely, efficient end-to-end global distribution of classified and sensitive material for the United States and its Allies.
The United States has maintained secure courier service since its earliest days. American ship captains and selected American travelers were used to carry sealed packages of mail. Later, these individuals called "Bearers of Dispatches," augmented a small group of Foreign Service Officers and carried material to/from overseas areas.
With few modifications, this method of moving classified mail abroad continued until 1918 when the War Department established the Military Postal Express Service, consisting of 70 officer and enlisted Army personnel, divided into an Overseas Service and a European Service. Despite some turbulence, this continued until the early days of World War II when the War Department activated the Army Courier Service to move classified material between the War Department and various theaters of operation. Meanwhile, the Navy created the Officer Messenger Service and the Army Air Corps operated an Air Courier Service to move cryptographic materials. Frequently, couriers from all three services flew together on the routes.
In November of 1946, the War Department discontinued the Army Courier Service and established a "Security Courier Service," which operated until 1949. At this time, certain courier stations were transferred to the newly created US Air Force Security Courier Service. Then in 1952, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed a review of courier operations which resulted in the establishment of an organization consisting of Army, Navy, and Air Force courier elements. The Armed Forces Courier Service (ARFCOS) was officially established on January 7, 1953. The military courier services were now consolidated. The ARFCOS charter was updated seven times over the next 30 years to reflect changes in the Armed Forces, military doctrine, and operational procedures. Though still valid, as the decade of the 1980s began, ARFCOS was due for a face-lift.
In the aftermath of the Walker-Wentworth espionage case (1985), the Secretary of Defense established a Security Commission-often referred to as the Stillwell Commission to review DoD security policies and practices. As part of its findings, the Commission recommended a review and restructuring of ARFCOS and the DoD Courier function. This resulted in publication of DoD Directive 5200.33, the revised charter for a new joint-service military command. Thus, the Defense Courier Service (DCS) was officially established on September 30, 1987.
A revised concept for execution of the courier function emerged with the creation of the DCS. Key to this are the following major affiliations:
- Under the DoD, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence)(USD(I)).
- Executive Agency responsibility for the DCD was transferred to the Air Force and, later, delegated to the Military Airlift Command (MAC).
- On December 5, 1994, the DCS became a Direct Reporting unit to the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). Later, on 1 October 1998, DCS was relieved from its assignment to the USTRANSCOM and assigned to the Air Mobility Command (AMC).
- More recently, on October 1, 2004, DCS was reorganized under USTRANSCOM and renamed the Defense Courier Division under J3
Since 2004, Defense Courier Division increasingly has been integrated into USTRANSCOM. This process began when Program Budget Decision (PBD) 410, dated 5 December 2003, directed the realignment of Defense Courier Division (DCD) from Air Mobility Command (AMC) to US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). On 1 October 2004, DCD was aligned as a Functional Component Command (FCC) under the USTRANSCOM Director of Operations (TCJ3). On 16 May 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I)) approved a proposal to eliminate the DCD command billet and integrate the functions of the DCD headquarters staff into USTRANSCOM. On 15 November 2005, the Defense Courier Division (TCJ3-C) assumed operational control of worldwide defense courier stations and continues to synchronize the defense courier related activities of the USTRANSCOM staff.