By Crystal Arriaga
Steel Magnolias of the Corps
This is always a hot button topic. We are extremely proud of our men and interesting facts and figures sometimes spill out of us like a sieve. The saying goes, “Loose lips sink ships” — or tanks or helos or whatever fits in your husband’s job description.
What is OPSEC?
OPSEC is keeping potential adversaries from discovering critical unit information. As the name suggests, it protects U.S. operations — planned, in progress and those completed. Success depends on secrecy and surprise so the military can accomplish the mission more quickly and with less risk. Enemies of freedom want this information, and they are not just after the military member to get it. They want you, the family member.
Yes, you the family members. Sometimes even we provide too much information. We’ve heard of the spouse who drives around with the sticker on her car back window that says, “Half of my heart is in…” and some stalker follows her home since he knows she’s home alone. He tries to follow her on base but his plan is thwarted by the MPs at the gate.
Also take for instance the young couple while in Afghanistan that had just spokne over the satellite phone. Then not a few minutes later the wife received word from another wife that her husband had been hit by an IED and the unit had only found his finger. Due to how communication is sketchy at best she spent hours in agony with no word from her husband or the command.
How can you help?
Regardless of what info you know, it may or may not be 100% truthful and ensuring safety is the number one priority. Besides the social no-no of sharing someone else’s info, you wouldn’t want anyone else putting your husband’s life at risk over a Facebook post. If the battalion commander wanted everyone on the western hemisphere to know when the unit goes anywhere at the same time on the same route to the same place he’d announce it himself. You don’t leave your purse out to make it easier for thieves. So don’t overshare when you have confidential and private information. If you have parents or in-laws who spill the beans, remind them that the information you provide them with is privileged and important to not pass on casually. In general, we all do a great job of keeping loose lips from sinking ships. Let’s continue to keep all of these guys and gals safe until they are all home.
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OPSEC for families is more important then ever. With the advent of RFIDs in ID cards, passports, medical research and supply chain management we are seeing more and more ID infromation stolen. Capability is always first and security next. My hope is that they manufacturers of ID related products think OPSEC first!