The Importance of Observing Operations Security

Military operations are deemed highly essential that it entails details that by nature, are not for public consumption. And for that matter, this discussion is a necessity wherein the age of information, is by nature the best thing to observe for a start especially to any people interested in military and defense issues.

A World War 2 propaganda depicting a survivor
of a sinking merchant ship. 
At present day, upon the advent of social media outlets, the essence of information becomes much accessible wherein any person can post something they saw, here or experience as per the way they want to document each and every life event or for any matter so to speak. 

And that includes several tidbits on military movements especially on a person like say, a civilian new in defense tier whose by chance of seeing any military hardware on the move makes thy hand itchy to gather up photos and immediately post it on a social media page like say, a Defense-related defense group with details as per time and location.

That alone arouse the fact among the people like civilians who have enough knowledge on military and defense protocols as well as the personnel in service where the said information shall not be posted in far known defense outlets other than personal timelines (if possible, not to post about it at all.) 

The reason about the said action where divulging such information being prohibited if possible being removed by moderators are due to this very fundamental thing called Operations Security whereby nature, it guarantees the life of that military personnel in a line wherein the operations are given is deemed essential or critical by nature if not important.

In this discussion, knowledge in this kind of observance is deemed necessary especially to each and every people interested in defense, enthusiasts and fanboys alike, wherein being aware of having it may save lives as well as having a greater chance a mission or an operation to succeed, rather than it is seen as a failure all thanks to several people who love to leak any deep or essential information to the public for the sake of popularity or for what matters, making situations much worse than anticipated.

The main point of Operations Security
via Wikimedia Commons
More known as OPSEC, Operations Security as per U.S. Department of Defense Directive (DoDDthrough this U.S. Army Regulations Document pertains to a process where identifying critical information and analysis of friendly actions relevant to any military operations wherein the actions that made by part of any military personnel can be observed by or used by an adversary intelligence system to gather necessary information they need as well as executing necessary measures to minimize if not eliminate the risk of leaking essential information against such intelligence system employed by a nation's enemy.

To reflect it more among social media users and also for understanding it further, OPSEC protects sensitive and/or critical information from adversary observation and collection in ways that traditional security programs cannot. In this sense, the main point of Operations Security and having it observed is not to fully disclose, if not disclose at all, any essential military information particularly the sensitive ones that may be seen as vital like any military operations, various military procurements/projects or its specifications, maneuvers, locations, strategy and so on and so forth. Hence, it might as well a good thing to stay mum at all times and keep that information among themselves unless such information was given a go signal to make it public. That is, regardless of its nature of the mission as long as it is a vital military operation wherein it being accomplished is essential to the overall course of it in connection as to what the Armed Forces and its tactics and/or strategies that they have wanted to achieve.

All of these things are needed for the enemy not to know any whereabouts, plans, strategy and some other classified and/or any essential information with regards to national security where in that sense, this information if leaked out, may harm those who are in the line as well as jeopardizing the mission and the overall national security in general. 

British WW2 propaganda with the saying:
"Loose lips sink ships" where it pertains to
merchant ships being sunk by German U-boats.
Via Wikimedia
In the Second World War, propaganda posters as the one given above with the quote "loose lips sink ships" wherein was considered as a reminder from the U.S. Office of War Information to its personnel to not disclose any information given that may be seen as useful for enemy spies of that time.

The point of having such posters is to have the people in the know at that time to stay wherein it guarantees the primary mission at that time as per war effort which is to gain and win against the Axis powers which in it consists of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Italy. As per the Philippine Military, it simply goes to the Eleven General Orders with the seventh one being much sensual to what Operations Security where it explicates as "talk to no one except in the line of duty"

In line with the Seventh General Order as well as Operations Security, do not immediately expect any personnel or those in the know to simply disclose any vital or essential information where it not only put careers in danger, but can also derail projects, mission failures, and most of all, making the whole nation much vulnerable where national security measures are jeopardized. 

That again gives an insight that each and every person who posts any whereabouts of military personnel with details on time and location shall be pondered upon and have reconsiderations so as per the understanding of observing Operations Security, a person shall understand what to post and not, or to filter what is for public consumption from those that are classified in nature.

For social media users as well as for any person who has any information about the matter, some measures need to be considered to determine the nature of having any "sightings" and its effect as per OPSEC.

Don't say any details on social media. Source
There are many things for a member of a defense forum, a defense page, or an avid reader of our website to do with regards to any sightings like having a plane buzzing in a sky or a ship spotted on the coastline. These rules will help military men by observing OPSEC. And these rules go as follows:

1. Do not post exact deployment dates or redeployment dates

2. Do not reveal camp locations, including nearby cities. After the deployment is officially announced by Military officials, you may discuss locations that have been released, normally on the Country level.

3. Do not discuss convoy routes (“we traveled through Tikrit on our way to X”)
Detailed information on the mission, capabilities, or morale of a unit
Specific names or actual nicknames

4. Personnel transactions that occur in large numbers (Example: pay information, powers of attorney, wills, etc)

5. Details concerning security procedures, response times, tactics

6. Don’t discuss equipment or lack thereof, including training equipment

7. Don’t speculate about future operations

8. If posting pictures, don’t post anything that could be misconstrued or used for propaganda purposes. A good rule of thumb is to look at your picture without your caption or explanation and consider if it could be re-captioned to reflect poorly on coalition forces. For example, your image might show your Soldier rescuing a child from a blast site but could be re-captioned to insinuate that the child being captured or harmed. (it’s happened!)

9. Avoid the use of count-up or count-down tickers for the same reason as rule #1

10. Be very careful if posting pictures of your loved one. Avoid images that show significant landmarks near their base of operations, and black out last names and unit affiliations

11. Do not, ever, post information about casualties (coalition or enemy) before the official release of the information.

12. Do not pass on rumors (“I heard they’re coming home early”, etc)

In these set of rules, it might as well helpful to have them followed wherein rather than spreading misinformation or having leaks that hamper OPSEC and risk having mission failures, observing the said guidelines above not only secures the lives of people on the line but as well refine the course of discussion the way it makes things clearer without any rumors, speculation and the like. 

This in which, gives a win-win situation where missions succeed without any information leaked to the enemy, projects proceed without a hitch, and discussions being discussed with having official statements and permitted ones served as a basis to make a well-informed opinion and/or analysis wherein it gives significance of having a healthy exchange of knowledge without any risks of divulging vital information in which in the end, the enemy benefits from it.

To summarize this topic up, Operation Security or OPSEC is very important especially in the age of information technology through the advent of social media where each and every user particularly the ones having the knowledge or information of sightings, whereabouts, or any classified matter are not to be in public consummation wherein it makes such information difficult to obtain by any potential adversary. 

In this thing, it will help the military to conduct its mandate without any compromise in any of its operations as well as securing more lives on the line or in the battlefronts wherein the very main point of it is to protect not only the nation and its citizens, but as well the very essential information as to the efforts of the military to defend it. 

So, for every person who is keen on defense issues as well as on our part and those of our fellow enthusiasts and others alike: Think a lot before posting any information, or for that matter try to confirm it before posting. Or rather, stay mum and keep the information among themselves; for loose lips may sink ships.


Unknown said...

I was worked in a private security office and all the things you have posted are true. OPSEC is not only applied to military personnel but also the civilian personnel who are working with them. Our rejected PDS must be shredded in order to be not utilized by the dumpster divers. To tell you, sometimes defense blogs are also one of the best source of intelligence reports (i don't like to mention a best example of a defense blog because i maybe criticized by its owner and its fans). I am wondering why there are defense blogs that are contending to be a good and reliable source even though their security will be compromised. Getting the real identity of the owner of the blog maybe lead into key persons who are actually involved in certain activity. Even also the tactless employee who posted sensitive information maybe lead into these key persons.

BOB said...

Always think OPSEC when using social media, texts, phone and email. When in doubt, don't post. Keep in mind there is NO guarantee of security for information transmittal, even if a forum described as “military” has its membership restricted to military personnel and their families

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