Like many organizations, the military uses Outlook for its employee email. Through the Outlook Web Application, you can check your email from wherever you are, as long as you have a Common Access Card and a card reader. To use the OWA, you'll go to the web address for your branch: mail.mil for Department of Defense, nmci.navy.mil for Navy, webmail.usmc.mil for Marines and mail.us.af.mil for Air Force.
Access Military Email From Home
Even though the military allows you to check your Navy, Marine, Air Force or Army webmail from home, security is a top concern. For that reason, you can't just use a username and password as you can with other websites. You'll need something called a Common Access Card, which usually is provided through your Human Resources department.
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Before you can check your military email at home, though, you'll need a CAC reader. Your unit may issue this to you automatically. If not, you may be able to request it. You can also purchase one online from a variety of vendors.
Finalizing the Installation
Having the card and reader will get you started, but you'll still need to download the Department of Defense certificates on your computer. This is a multi-step process that authorizes your device to view Department of Defense content. You can get these certificates, along with instructions specific to each type of operating system, at https://militarycac.com/dodcerts.htm.
You'll also have to download and install something called ActivClient, which is the main Department of Defense CAC software. This software interacts with the CAC card reader you have installed to verify your identity so that you can access your email. Once you've done that, you can go to the appropriate website for your branch of the military and access your email.
Military Email for Smartphones
When you begin your time in the military, you may be issued a mobile device set up to work safely within the DoD infrastructure. You can check your military email on this device without having to take special measures. You could even forward this email to your personal email account, where you can then access it from whatever webmail service you use.
But you may not have been issued a work phone and, even if you were, you may not want to take two phones everywhere with you. The good news is, you can access OWA on your personal mobile device, including an iPhone or iPad. If you have a CAC, you at least have the first step out of the way, but you'll need to get a CAC reader specific to an iOS device. There are a couple of companies that offer both the readers and the software you'll need to use it on your iPhone or iPad, including Thursby and Identiv.
If you want to check military email such as Army webmail through an Android phone, you'll have fewer options. Thursby offers a card reader, as well as an app called Sub Rosa Pro that will help you access OWA on your phone. This is currently the only option available to check your military email through your personal Android.
Problems With Internet Explorer
Some service-members have reported issues viewing their navy, marine, air force or army webmail from home. This is related to security changes Microsoft recently made that affected Internet Explorer. You may get a blank page or an unresponsive "Send" button.
You can try switching to another browser, like Google Chrome, but if you want a more long-term fix, simply select "Internet Options" from the drop-down box under the gear in the upper-right corner. Select "Security," "Trusted Sites" and "Sites." Type the last part of the extension into the box reading, "Add this website to the zone."
- For Department of Defense, type: https://*.mail.mil
- For Navy, type: https://*nmci.navy.mil
- For Marines, type: https://*webmail.us.usmc.mil
- For Air Force, type: https://mail.us.af.mil and https://owa.us.af.mil
- MilitaryCAC.com: Steps to Accessing Outlook Web App (2010) and / or Outlook Web Access (2003)
- MilitaryCAC.com: Department of Defense (Dod) Enterprise Email (Dee) Information Page
- Dodea: Outlook Web Access (OWA)
- CAC: Getting Your Common Access Card (CAC)
- MilitaryCAC.com: Step 1: Obtain a CAC Reader
- MilitaryCAC.com: Windows Computers Not Able to Create New or Reply to Emails
- MilitaryCAC.com: Step 3: Install the Department of Defense (DOD) Certificates
- MilitaryCAC.com: Step 4: ActivClient Page
- MilitaryCAC.com: CAC Use on Mobile Devices