We hear about it all the time–OPSEC and PERSEC for military families. This is how we keep service members and their families safe. But do we really know what we can and can’t say on the internet, via email or to people in real life?
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is enough education out there for spouses, families and the rest of the civilian world. I will often see OPSEC violations multiple times per week in a private Facebook group that I run.
All of this isn’t meant to point fingers at individuals because if multiple individuals are continuing to unknowingly violate OPSEC, then this is clearly a system-wide education issue.
Let’s ditch the military jargon and break OPSEC and PERSEC down in terms and examples anyone can understand.
OPSEC 101: Things you can’t say.
1. Don’t share specific information about the mission of assigned units.
AKA…don’t go on Facebook and post “The troops of 4th company are going to tackle the minions in Nowheresville. Please pray for them. Hugs and kisses.”
2. Don’t share specific dates and locations of deployments.
AKA…don’t go on Twitter and post “Omg…I’m so sad. My hairy lover leaves for Timbuktu in 6 days. How will I ever make it through?”
3. Don’t list your service member’s specific job on the internet.
AKA… “My husband just got promoted to Sergeant over at 2nd PLT, ALPHA company. Couldn’t be more proud!”
4. Don’t share you service member’s exact location overseas.
AKA… “My sweets is working so hard over at FOB Sanders in Nowheresville. Can’t wait for him to come home!”
5. Don’t share anything about unit moral or equipment.
AKA… “Doesn’t sound like the troops are faring too well over there in Nowheresville. He said they are sleeping in freezing conditions and they don’t have any weapons. What should I do??! I’m so worried for him.”
6. Don’t share anything about deployment schedules or itineraries.
AKA… “Looks like they are moving to exercise Bazinga on December 13 and should be headed to Nowheresville by December 16. Hoping they stay on schedule and come home right on time!”
7. Don’t share exact dates your service member is scheduled to return from deployment.
AKA… “ONLY 11 more days to go! I can hardly wait! I’m using this awesome countdown timer so we can all keep track.”
Other things to consider:
- Don’t post pictures that would give away your service member’s exact location.
- Make sure all metadata is stripped from pictures, which may contain exact date, time and locations that the photo was taken.
- Don’t post or share EVER about unit casualties until you are 100% certain that next of kin is notified and the information is publically released.
- Turn your own phone location setting to off. There really is no need to share your current location with the world of social media.
OPSEC 101: Things you can say…
“I love my Marine, Sailor, Airman or Soldier.”
“My service member is leaving this summer.” (Even saying the month is fine.)
“Looking forward to my service member coming home soon.”
“So proud of everything he’s accomplished.”
“Right now he’s deployed to Iraq.”
“Missing him / her everyday.”
Just keep it simple. As a general rule of thumb, the more vague the better. Sharing anything “exact” is likely a violation. Sharing ballpark or big picture ideas…better choice.
Other things to consider:
- Please know that anything you post (even on a private FB page) can be made public. Anyone can screenshot, hack into messages or email accounts and share the information with an adversary.
- Take caution with using anything to identify yourself as a military family. It’s a simple extra step of protection you can take. (i.e. bumper stickers on cars, hangings in your windows).
OPSEC and PERSEC make it sound like a killjoy for everyone. But ultimately, these simple guidelines are in place to help keep military families and service members safe from adversaries (anyone who may want to hurt us).