I've wanted to write a post about OPSEC for a little while now. For my civilian friends and family OPSEC is Operational Security. Basically, it's keeping vital information from getting into the wrong hands. Bits of information like troop size, training and movements...and more often for those of us left behind, it's information regarding when our loved ones are leaving or coming home (ie: "yay, my husband will be home in [insert any specific amount of time]!"). It may seem like everyday information worthy of a facebook update. In fact, it's common to see civilian friends posting about their upcoming family vacation or their husband's business trip but when it involves the military, when it's R&R, training or deployment, it's an OPSEC violation and it needs to stop.
The closer we get to homecoming the easier it would be to forget OPSEC in our eager anticipation. I said that I've wanted to write about this for a while and there were a couple specific OPSEC violations that were bugging me but to be honest, I didn't want to be "that" wife. The one who's getting onto everyone for breaking the rules...it kind of feels like the grown up equivalent of the kid in class who would remind the teacher that she forgot to assign homework. But the fact is OPSEC violations are deadly serious. You don't know who's listening or reading what you're saying. You don't know what their intentions are.
The old saying "loose lips sink ships" is the heart of OPSEC. I can't tell you that every facebook or blog post with an OPSEC violation will get someone hurt or ruin a mission but the fact is, every one of them has the potential to get someone hurt or ruin a mission. Also, I can tell you that when OPSEC violations occur, deployments can change...as in they leave home early or stay away longer.
If keeping the troops safe, missions secure and deployments from being extended aren't enough reasons, OPSEC is there to protect those of us at home too. Last fall, a couple men in the Oklahoma City area dressed in ACUs and tried to con the family of a Navy service member who was away on deployment. These men claimed to be Army Casualty Notification Officers and told the Navy Wife that her husband had been killed. They then tried to get her to sign some papers. She refused and called the base her husband was stationed out of to learn he was alive and well. To my knowledge, the men were never arrested. The cruel hoax was a gut check for all of us who were in the midst of deployment when it happened. It's another reason for us to be vigilant when we're posting online or in the check out line and someone asks just one too many questions. It's why OPSEC matters at home too.