What is OPSEC?
As a member of the military community, you’ve likely heard the term “OPSEC” thrown around, particularly when having conversations about safety. OPSEC stands for operational security, which refers to the rules and guidelines that servicemembers, their families and friends must adhere to in order to keep everyone safe from those who would wish to harm our military.
Military OPSEC rules can apply to conversations, social media — any circumstance in which information about our servicemembers and U.S. military operations (planned, in progress or complete) may be discussed. By following these guidelines, we can all help protect our military and national security.
While there isn’t one master list of cited OPSEC rules and regulations, there are some general guidelines that all military families should be aware of and adhere to for the safety of our brave men and women.
Here are 10 OPSEC Rules every MilSpouse should know.
1. Don’t Share Details of a Mission
This may go without saying, but a very clear OPSEC rule is not to share any detailed information about a mission or its units on any form of social media.
That includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — even old platforms “nobody uses anymore” that you may think are too obsolete for anyone to find your profile. Breaking this rule could not only put your spouse and their entire unit in danger, but also compromise the mission itself.
2. Don’t Mention Your Military Spouse’s Specific Job Title
This is one military OPSEC rule that can come as a surprise. Everyone talks about their jobs, so why can’t servicemembers or their spouses mention job titles on social media? The answer is that posting specific information about your servicemember’s rank or unit could put you, your family and your spouse at risk if the wrong people got hold of that information.
3. Don’t Post Location or Time of Unit Deployments
Deployments are common among military families, so it makes sense to talk about them whether between friends in person or online to your social networks. But doing so can actually be highly unsafe.
When it comes to social media, you truly don’t know everyone who can access your content — even if you have a private account. Posting the details of a deployment, like departure date and time, can put your spouse and every other servicemember in their unit at risk.
4. Don’t Post Details of Trainings
While unit training may seem “less serious” than deployment, this information can be very valuable in the hands of the wrong people. Never post the details of a unit’s training location or times on any kind of social media.
5. NEVER Post Casualty Information Before an Official Release
You never know if you have all the accurate information or if next of kin have been notified. If you hear of a casualty from a fellow military spouse or your servicemember, keep that information private until official information has been released.
6. Avoid Gossip and Rumors
While this can be a difficult military OPSEC rule to follow closely, do your best to avoid conversations, rumors and gossip that you can’t confirm. “I heard they’re coming home early” and other similar conversation starters can be interesting at the time, but can end up doing far more harm than good when the information being spread is not certain.
7. Be Careful When Sharing Pictures of Your Military Spouse
While you are likely eager to post pictures or videos of your servicemember on social media, be very careful about the specific images you choose to share, as pictures can give away valuable information.
An important OPSEC rule to follow
, avoid posting any pictures that include significant landmarks near a base of operations. Also be sure to black out any name or unit affiliation details to protect your loved one, their unit and missions.
8. Avoid Public Countdowns to Deployments and Homecomings
It’s completely fair to be excited about homecoming, but keep in mind that publicly displaying this information can put your loved one at risk, as well as jeopardize their entire unit and mission. Keep any countdowns private for you and your family.
9. Avoid Car Decals
While we understand showing pride for your servicemember, putting an “Army Wife” bumper sticker or vanity license plate on your car can actually put you in harm’s way, particularly if you have other car decals that share more private information about you or your family. Any mention of your deployed spouse, how many kids you have, what school they go to or their sports teams, etc. can put your safety at risk. Always consider what type of information you’d be comfortable with a complete stranger knowing.
10. Don’t Mention Supplies or Equipment — Or Lack Thereof
Living on various bases, you may learn about the types of resources, supplies, equipment, etc. that your base receives and when certain items are delivered or resupplied. To be safe, it’s best not to share any information about a military base, including the type of equipment or resources at your disposal. It may seem insignificant to complain about what’s lacking at the commissary, but alerting enemies of limited resources in any capacity can be dangerous.
Keeping our armed forces and their families safe is a matter of national security. While sharing certain information may seem harmless, it really can be a matter of life and death if you aren’t careful. If you have doubts whether or not a post is appropriate to share, always play it safe and keep that information offline.
What are some other OPSEC rules you and your military family follow? Let us know your tips in the comments.
More Important Things Your MilFam Should Know
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