Today I’m talking about a topic I am very passionate about, one that I feel no one takes as serious as they should. Many people ask me for specifics about our lives, and some of those things I just can’t give. Why? There is no simple, one sentence, answer and I’ll explain why.
OPSEC has been a part of my day-to-day life since the day I became a Navy wife. I have read so many official postings on OPSEC and have been to several briefings on it as well. So, with all things considered… I would consider myself to be well-educated when it comes to OPSEC.
First off, What is OPSEC?
OPSEC means Operational Security. OPSEC is the process of denying potential adversaries any information about capabilities and/or intentions by identifying, controlling, and protecting generally unclassified evidence of the planning and execution of sensitive activities.
The old saying “Loose Lips Sink Ships” isn’t just a World War II thing. It’s still true today, especially with the internet. I wouldn’t want something I say to be the cause of harm to any of our military, especially my wonderful husband. Even those that hear information may be innocent but those that they pass that information onto may not be.
Not everyone that sits behind a computer screen is friendly, and when it comes down to it, there are people in the world who actively seek information that can help do harm to our military and Americans.
Something everyone should understand- although some information may not be secret, it can be what we call “critical information.”. Critical information deals with specific facts about military intentions, capabilities, operations or activities. If the enemy knew detailed information, the service member’s mission accomplishment and personnel safety could be jeopardized. By being a member of the military family, YOU will often know some bits of critical information. Do not discuss them in public and with persons who are not immediate family or affiliated with the military- only people you trust and who practice OPSEC.
Where and how you discuss this information is just as important as with whom you discuss it. Adverse agents tasked with collecting information frequently visit some of the same stores, clubs, recreational areas, or places of worship as you do.
Determined individuals can easily collect data from cordless and cell phones, and even baby monitors, using inexpensive receivers available from local electronics stores.
Some information you may think is insignificant, however, paired with someone else’s “insignificant” information, it can be puzzled together and the full picture put together. Puzzle pieces ARE a violation of OPSEC.
What not to talk or post about:
• Do not post training dates such as ship underways.
• Do not post homecoming dates, this includes training/ underway homecomings.
• Do not post R&R dates- arrival or departure.
• Do not discuss locations; don’t discuss what country the ships are porting in at all.
• Do not discuss convoy routes (“we traveled through XYZ on our way to ZXY”).
• Do not discuss detailed information on the mission, capabilities or morale of a unit or command.
• Do not discuss details concerning security procedures, response times, tactics.
• Do not discuss equipment or lack there of.
• Do not talk about or speculate about future operations or movements. This would include a ship changing ports stateside. (i.e. a specific carrier moving from Norfolk to Mayport).
• Do not post countdowns or time frames, same for count-ups. Counting down is giving the exact date. Counting up from the day he left is a puzzle piece. While you may not be giving exact information, put with someone else’s percentage or estimate… you give it away.
• Do not post pictures of your spouse with obvious landmarks that can give away his or her location.
• Do not pass on rumors.. (i.e. “I heard the dates changed”)
• Do not post percentages some feel this is ok, but it is also a puzzle piece. If you pair it with someone else’s puzzle piece/ violation it can be figured out. You post that you are 50% done… and someone posts he’s been gone 90 days.. You then have a date/ timeframe.
I think you get the idea.
If you refuse to follow these guidelines, you are putting YOUR service member at great risk. Not only are you putting yours in greater danger, you are putting every service member in their unit/command/ship etc at risk.
By not following these rules you are potentially getting your service member in trouble. With MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and several other social networking sites out there info is available so quickly to the entire world. Don’t think by posting a simple “my hubby will be home tomorrow.” this isn’t just giving this info to your family and friends. It’s also giving the exact same info to the very people our armed forces are fighting.
Remember, no matter your affiliation, status, rank or age, you have a part in the security of your loved one! For those of you practicing OPSEC, THANK YOU!!!