OPSEC? Tweet this, not that!
By Capt. Cheryl Mead, 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron
/ Published April 16, 2013
BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE - East Granby, Conn. -- You can't believe that a year has gone by since you received official notification of your deployment. In that year you have talked to friends, family and co-workers about your upcoming endeavor. This maybe an exciting time for you and you'll more than likely want to share that with people close to you. Throughout the year you may have even told people where you will be going and the dates you will be gone, or how many people you are going with and for how long. Did any of this communication happen over Facebook, Twitter or personal e-mails? If so, you could have given away classified information and risked operations security, otherwise known as OPSEC.
OPSEC is designed not to produce anxiety, but to be used as a tool to protect servicemembers and their families at all times, especially during the deployment cycle. OPSEC is an awareness of your surroundings and the foresight to keep information private in order to stay safe personally and keep military missions on track. Terrorists and foreign intelligence collectors are always looking for ways to disrupt military operations and they do that by acquiring bits and pieces of information until they have a clear picture. The more time they have to put together that picture and devise a plan to disrupt it, the more likely they are to succeed at carrying out an attack.
So, what can you say or e-mail people about your deployment? What can you post on a social media site? Putting any two certain pieces of information together about a deployment makes the information classified "secret" until 21 days prior to departure date. In that 21-day window, certain information is downgraded to request transportation and becomes "Unclassified - For Official Use Only" (FOUO). The less time the information is out there, the less time an enemy can act on it.
Telling people specific information is what we want to limit. Speaking vaguely in public settings or on social media sites is great practice to keeping OPSEC. For example, an Airman could have said, "I am deploying to Iraq with 20 guys from my communications flight. We leave from Bradley on June 15 and I'll be in country for six months."
What he should have said was, "I'm deploying to South West Asia sometime in June. No, I'm not going alone, some other people are going too. I can't tell you right now when we are leaving but as we get closer, I'll let you know."
It is vitally important that servicemembers protect the information they are given. In addition to reminding those in your household to not share your unit, location, deployment dates, mission, AFSC and other specific deployment information, it is a good idea to remind parents and in-laws to do the same. Good luck and have a safe trip!