Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Careless Talk Got There First...

Operational Security (aka OPSEC). I mentioned it in an earlier post. At one time OPSEC was a way of life for the American people. Those were very different days. Days when it usually took hours or even days before the whole world knew when a celebrity had their latest melt down, or the newest hit song came out. Days when instant gratification wasn't common and people believed that "good things come to those who wait."

Days when a person's safety was more important than everyone else's "right" to know what was happening. Days when the military was run by seasoned veterans and not dictated by pansy politicians who have never even donned a uniform much less served in a war. Days when the media understood the difference between a sensational story and the importance of a mission. Days when you would be considered a traitor for "leaking" information that would potentially put the lives of American Troops in danger. Days when the military uniform and the American flag were respected by the mass public. Ah, but those are all separate rants.

Nevertheless, some of the mottos that they had during both the World War I and World War II eras are still true. They said, and believed, things like "Loose lips sink ships" and "The battle-wise infantryman is careful about what he says and writes, how about you?" and "If you tell where he is going he may never get there." Back in those days OPSEC was something that the general public knew about and understood...but, then again, most of them had a family member in the war.

War, however ill-liked it may be, is still a part of the America we live in; but fewer people (if you look at the overall ratio) are called upon to serve. And, thus, fewer people understand the importance of OPSEC. But in this age of instant information via live TV and the internet it is more vital than ever.

As an army wife about to go through my first deployment I take this very seriously. One of my biggest fears is my husband coming home in a box...and having to raise my children on my own. I can't even begin to recount the number of nightmares I've had about that very thing since my husband joined the Army. This is no trifling matter to me. So here is my general run down of OPSEC.

What is it? Boiled down, it is keeping all "potential adversaries" in the dark. Making sure that they don't know about our capabilities and specific intentions (and often even general intentions) by safe-guarding all information that gives evidence of our planning and execution of sensitive activities. It protects our operations being planned, in progress, and completed. Military (and other Departments of Defense Agencies) success is depends on secrecy and surprise.

What most people don't understand is that even though something may not be a secret persay it can still be critical information. Examples of this are details about times and dates of a units deployment; references to problems with a units morale and security issues (any weak points that the unit may have); details concerning security procedures, etc. These are things that I will be extremely careful about sharing. Especially on a forum as public and unsecured as a blog. What may seem insignificant to the reader (and even myself) may be the missing piece of a puzzle for someone who wishes to do our troops harm.

What can I do? Here are a few things - DO NOT discuss:

 Current and future operations
 Travel Itineraries
 Operational Planning Information
 Readiness Status
 Building Plans
 General Morale
 Anything to do with the Mission, Equipment, Time Frame, or Destinations.

Our troops really are counting on you! 

I understand that most of those asking questions have only the best intentions at heart. They want to know specifics so that they can better pray for our family. But there are certain things that just are better left unsaid. On the internet and over "open air waves" you really never know who's listening or watching. It gives a whole knew meaning to "Too Much Information!"

For those of you who are out there with those good intentions, I will try to share as much information as I can without feeling like what I am saying may put my husband and those serving with him in jeopardy (following the "when in doubt, don't" philosophy). Thank you for understanding!!!

  "Even minutiae should have a place in our collection, 
for things of a seemingly trifling nature, when 
enjoined with others of a more serious cast, may lead
to valuable conclusion
              — George Washington, known OPSEC practitioner

Praying that this is never our family!

For more detailed information about OPSEC please check out this link.

***Images are from World War II Poster Collection from the Northwestern University Library***


  1. I absolutely love this post. I'm sharing it on my FB right now. Well said.

  2. So wonderfully true! I absolutely loved this. Well put, well said! :)