OPSEC, also known as Operational Security, is the principle that we, as Army wives and Army family members, should all abide by when talking about our soldiers. If you've been on any military related message board on the internet, you have more than likely seen a warning to be sure to practice OPSEC. This means protecting the information you know about your soldier and his or her unit.
Generally, it means that you should not give out the following:
(1) Your soldier's exact location overseas
(2) Any information on troop movements – this includes any movement while they are deployed and in transit to/from theater (including R&R). Do not ever give dates or times.
(3) Any information on weapons systems, how they train or numbers – for this reason, many pictures from overseas can easily violate OPSEC.
If your soldier is in a special operations unit, the OPSEC guidelines can be stricter. You may not be able to say he or she is deployed at all, much less where. His unit and/or FRG should provide the OPSEC guidelines for these situations.
Always abide by the rules set forth by his unit. Just because it is on the news does not mean that you can talk about the issue. By talking about it, you are only verifying the information.
CORRECT: "My soldier is deployed in support of Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom."
INCORRECT: "My soldier is in XYZ Unit and is stationed at ABC Camp in XXX city in Iraq."
Give only general locations IF his unit allows it. The above incorrect statement is entirely too much information.
INCORRECT: "My soldier's unit is returning from deployment and flying into XYZ Airport at 8pm next Thursday."
Never give dates or times for troop movements. Keep in mind that "next Thursday" is a date. This includes R&R dates as well as deployment and redeployment dates. Planes have been delayed for days or weeks because an excited family member made this information public.
INCORRECT: "Please pray for my soldier. He called today and told me he is going out on a very dangerous mission tonight. They will be gone for three days and I'm very worried about him."
When our soldiers are in dangerous situations, it is natural to want to reach out to others. But the above statement puts your soldier and his unit in danger. You could have very well just alerted the enemy about their mission.
It is important to realize that putting together the bits and pieces needed to create the larger picture can be amazingly simple on the internet. Many mistakenly believe that if they don't talk about it all at once, the information is safe. This is wrong and dangerous to assume.
The internet is a wonderful tool, but in regards to our military, it is a very dangerous one as well. It takes only minutes of searching online to find enough pieces of information that could potentially endanger our soldiers.
DEPLOYMENT TICKERS ~ Many family members like to use deployment tickers to count down their soldier's deployment. Never have a ticker that shows XX days until your soldier returns. If you must have a ticker, then have one with the amount of time he or she has been gone, although it is best to not have this type of ticker at all.
Finally, for your own personal safety, be very aware of what you are putting on the internet or saying in conversations in public. With the internet, it is not difficult to track down an address and phone number. Do not make yourself a target by letting the world know that your loved one is deployed.
PERSEC is also known as personal security. Like OPSEC, this involves guarding the information that you know. Do not give out your soldier's name along with rank. This includes blacking out his or her name tape and rank in pictures. If he or she is in a special operations unit, you should also black out any unit affiliation.
Be vague on the internet about your personal information as an Army wife or Army family member. This is plain common sense in just every day life whether you have a family member in the military or not.
The old saying "loose lips sink ships" still holds true today. Keep your soldier, your family and his or her unit safe by keeping the information you know to yourself. You never know who is lurking and gathering information on message boards, myspace pages,facebook pages, and profiles. Better safe than sorry!