Less than a month, guys… less than a MONTH! If I weren’t laying down, covered in blankets, I could seriously jump up and down with joy (and maybe a little anxiety…)
I can’t believe I’ve been here for two months! Or that the wedding is so close… It’s like all the waiting that we did together is finally coming to an end. And I could not be happier, honestly. I’ve loved the wedding planning… Kinda… Actually, no it’s been really stressful and I’m just happy that the planning part is almost over.
But, I don’t want to talk about that… I barely even want to talk about how Bravo is working so good on being potty trained, and knows ‘sit’ ‘stay’ ‘fetch’ and comes when he’s called (most of the time). We still have a little bit that we need to work on.
What I really want to talk about right now is OPSEC/PERSEC. I know… Not exactly the most exciting topic in the world – but one that really needs to be discussed right now. The current threat of ISIS against military members and their families is very real. And truthfully, after more than a decade of war coming to a close, people have gotten relaxed in their vigilance… This has unfortunately lead to many people being unnecessarily put into danger, and has even caused people to lose their lives. This is desperately important, people. So, to make this a teeny bit less boring, I bring to you; The Rules Of OPSEC/PERSEC With Borderline Creepy, Slightly Politically Incorrect WWII Propaganda Posters.
So; to start. What the heck is OPSEC/PERSEC? OPSEC stands for Operational Security – the things you do/don’t do to keep operations (big and small, over seas and stateside) confidential, safe, and functional. Secure.
PERSEC stands for Personal Security. As with OPSEC, this is pretty self explanatory when you think about it – what you do/don’t do in order to keep your soldier and your family (and yourself!) safe.
The unfortunate thing with the military’s need for efficiency, is that the use of acronyms makes it feel like this is only something the military should have to deal with. However, it really is something that EVERYONE should be thinking about.
Don’t discuss troop movements.
I’m sure you just thought “well, duh.” If that’s true, good for you. For a lot of people, the first level of this is easy. Don’t go around telling people the exact spot your soldier’s unit is going.
That’s a good start. But it goes SO much deeper than that.
No dates. No times. No locations. If in one post you say “my soldier leaves tomorrow. #sobummed” and then a day later “he made it to Texas. Next stop, Kandahar!” You’ve just given anyone with an internet connection the ability to find and locate not only your soldier but other people’s loved ones as well.
The same goes for home comings. A soldier gets news he’s coming home in 2 weeks. He tells his wife. His wife tells Facebook. The soldiers bosses get wind of the security leak – and push the homecoming back another month. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard of this happening. Just because they are coming home doesn’t mean you get to relax.
The same goes for your own personal security. Don’t tell people travel dates, times, locations, whatever. A good rule to follow is that you can say where you were, but you can’t say where you’re going. Because as morbid and creepy as this picture of this sailor is – is also very true. Just don’t talk about troop movements or personal travel, guys.
Don’t post personal information.
I showed you how easy it really is to put together the puzzle of information that people lay out on the internet.
This goes for personal information as well. And nowhere is the puzzle laid out more clearly than on social media.
Pictures, location services, your first and last name, the pages you ‘like,’ statuses, current unit patches. These are glaringly easy to put together. And from that, a simple internet search can bring up your home address!
With the current global climate being slightly… er, unstable? It’s really just a smart idea to remove those pictures and things and make sure that your profile is private.
Don’t disclose people’s units and names (last names especially) .
There are only so many people in the military. When you narrow it down to a single unit, you make the job for someone hunting information that much easier.
The tricky thing about this is that there are units you aren’t even supposed to say your SO is attached to, due to security concerns, or the sizes of the units – smaller units mean an even more narrow-ed down target. If you have a SO or loved who is in a covert/secret ops unit (Special Forces, SEAL, ParaRescue etc), you shouldn’t even tell people they are part of it. It puts them, and their family (which includes you!) in danger – especially with so many special operations teams sent to deal with an increasingly dangerous list of enemies.
This is very important when it comes to social media. No last names – which means no pictures with nametape. No unit patches. Deployment patches can be allowed, but are still advised against. A good rule of thumb is that you can post where you’ve been but not where you are or where you’re going.
Guard What You Say To People
While I wish this was not true, sometimes the safest, most secure thing is to say nothing.
I’m terribly proud of my family. And I love to make sure people know that. But I love knowing they are safe, more.
If you aren’t sure whether something you’re going to say – to a cashier, or person in a restaurant, or a fellow spouse, or post, is going to help someone who is looking to harm soldiers, it’s best not to say anything.
It can be very tempting to tell everyone exactly what your loved ones are doing – especially when it’s something ‘cool’ – the military is kind of full of awesome jobs! But with that comes the fact that once you have said something – it cannot ever be unsaid. And you have no way of controlling who they tell, or what they are saying.
As unfortunate as it is, the price of security is suspicion – but the price of not being mindful is much higher.