From the USMC official webpage:
You may not know it, but you also play a crucial role in ensuring your loved one’s safety just by what you know of the military’s day-to-day operations. You can protect your loved one by protecting the information that you know. This is known in the military as operations security or, OPSEC.
What is OPSEC?
OPSEC is keeping potential adversaries from discovering our 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 quicker and with less risk. Enemies of freedom want our information, and they’re not just after the military member to get it. They want you, the family member.
There are many countries and organizations that would like to harm Americans and degrade our influence in the world. It is possible and not unprecedented for spouses and family members of U.S. military personnel to be targeted for intelligence collection and worse. This is true in the United States and especially true overseas! What can you do?
Foreign governments and organizations can collect significant amounts of useful information by using spies. A foreign agent may use a variety of approaches to befriend someone and get sensitive information. This sensitive information can be critical to the success of a terrorist or spy, and consequently deadly to Americans.
There may be times when your spouse cannot talk about the specifics of his or her job. It is very important to conceal and protect certain information such as flight schedules, ship movements, TAD locations and installation activities, just to name a few. Something as simple as a phone discussion concerning where you spouse is going TAD or deploying can be very useful to our adversaries. From time to time, you may receive hand written letter from your deployed service member. Information is these letters may be unclassified yet sensitive and should be safeguarded.
Protecting Critical Information
Even though information may not be secret, it is what we call “critical information.” Critical Information deals with specific facts about military intentions, capabilities, operations or activities. If an adversary knew this detailed information, our mission could be jeopardized. It must be protected to ensure an adversary doesn’t gain a significant advantage.
By being a member of the military family, you will often know some bits of critical information. Do not discuss them outside of your immediate family and especially not over the telephone or the Internet (mail, websites, blogs, etc).
Examples of critical information:
-Detailed information about mission of assigned units
-Details concerning locations and times of unit deployments.
-Personnel transactions that occur in large numbers (e.g. pay information, power of attorney, wills).
-References to unit morale or personnel problems.
-Details concerning security procedures.
-Personal data (Addresses, Social Security Numbers, family members names, telephone numbers)
These bits of information may seem insignificant. However, to a trained adversary, they are small pieces of a puzzle that highlight what we’re doing and planning. Remember, the elements of security and surprise are vital to the accomplishment of our goals and our collective personnel protection.
Where and how you discuss this information is just as important as with whom you discuss it. Adversary’s 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 cellular phones and even baby monitors using inexpensive receivers available from local electronics stores.
OPSEC IS A FAMILY AFFAIR
I consider OPSEC a vital element in protecting II MHG’s mission and service members, and I want to stress the vital role every member of the II MHG family team plays in ensuring we deny our adversaries potentially useful information.
We cannot afford to let our guard down. Whether we are on duty or off duty. Your diligence in OPSEC is key to ensuring our effectiveness in operations and ensuring our collective safety.
For more information on what OPSEC is, or how to follow it, please check out these sources:
- Spouse Buzz- 6 surprise OPSEC don’ts
- Army Medicine Pamphlet
- MilitarySpot.com: OPSEC and PERSEC