I don't know about you, but when Ben joined the military, no one told me about OPSEC... but I have a lot of common sense when it comes to this stuff, so I never made any big mess ups. Although, I really wish someone would have told me about this and I got some sort of booklet or something.
So this is for all you newbies out there, or even long time military families who need a refresher.
What is OPSEC?
The Army website defines it like this:
Operations Security, or OPSEC, is keeping potential adversaries from discovering ourI had heard a lot of military wives talking about it, but I didn't know what it was until I googled it -- and that was after Ben had been in training for a couple months already.
critical information. As the name suggests, it protects our operations – planned, in progress, and those completed. Success depends on secrecy and surprise, so the military can accomplish the mission faster and with less risk. Our adversaries want our information, and they don’t concentrate on only soldiers to get it.
They want you, the family member.
What are some examples of "critical information"?
• Detailed information about the mission of assigned units.
• Details on locations and times of unit deployments.
• Personnel transactions that occur in large numbers (Example: pay information, powers of attorney, wills, deployment information).
• References to trends in unit morale or personnel problems.
• Details concerning security procedures.
(Above points taken from the Army website linked above)
And then, there is the rule of thumb: If it doesn't seem right to share, DON'T. They even tell us not to mention online (blogs, facebook, twitter, etc) even the MONTH that our loved one is coming home from over seas.
Critical information should not be shared outside of immediate family and especially not over the phone.
When Ben had been away for about 4 months, there was a seasoned Army wife who had a pretty popular blog. When her husband got his orders, she took a picture of them and posted them on her blog. BIG FAT NO-NO! You should have seen the scathing comments from other military wives. I believe word got back to some higher ups and she was forced to remove the post.
Social Media and OPSEC:
The military encourages us to blog and facebook, they just want us to be careful what we say. Sometimes we feel super safe in our homes as we are typing stuff to our friends, sometimes we don't really think that everything we are saying can be seen by anyone in the world.
Sometimes, our family members can't talk about something. Respect that, don't press or nag them to tell you. I know that there are lots of things Ben can't talk about to me, and I know it's hard for him to be quiet because we tell each other just about everything else. So I just don't bring it up, or if I feel it is creeping in the conversation, I change the subject. I don't ever want him to feel pressured into telling me things I don't need to know.
It isn't just soldiers who are being targeted anymore either. I saw this article yesterday in the news about some terrorists that were targeting some families of the Marines. So even though our loved ones may seem far away from it all... you just never know what those jerks are up to. Better just be careful and stay safe. My intentions aren't to scare you, either! So don't get all freaked out and pull some drastic measures. Enjoy social media, texting, blogging... chatting with friends... just play it safe is all.
For more information you can see the Operation Security Guild for Family and Friends here. I have only touched a few points above, so please check out this site so you can read more about it.