OPSEC is critical everyday, everywhere
By Donald Crosby , Twentieth Air Force Special Security Office
/ Published April 19, 2007
F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Operations security is a key component of antiterrorism and force protection, helping protect servicemembers, civilian employees, families, facilities and equipment everywhere by denying information.
Good OPSEC practices are important, especially now due to the threat of terrorism against the United States. Simply put, OPSEC is all about denying the adversary (bad guys) information so people can be protected and maximize mission effectiveness.
According to Air Force Instruction 10-701, Operations Security, antiterrorism relies heavily on OPSEC.
When people identify and protect critical information (military operations, capabilities, limitations, intentions, personnel, programs, etc.), OPSEC becomes a proactive means by which adversaries are denied this important advantage.
Regardless of career field, OPSEC applies to all. Everyone possesses critical information the adversary wants. References to this information are maintained on a critical information list, commonly known as a CIL. The list should be kept in a secure area. Unit OPSEC managers are responsible for tailoring the CIL to their particular work areas and distributing it throughout their units.
If people need to discuss critical information, they should use secure means such as a STE. When discussing critical information, remember an appropriate security clearance does not constitute a valid need-to-know. Ensure the other party or parties have both the clearance and the need to know. Also keep in mind government telephones are subject to monitoring at all times.
Since force protection and antiterrorism protect the Air Force's most precious asset, our people,- Air Force people must scrupulously apply OPSEC everywhere, everyday.
While OPSEC has received increased attention lately, it's important all the time. The adversary isn't just seeking information during times of conflict. He is patiently waiting and collecting it all the time.
Here are some OPSEC tips to apply everyday:
One person's trash is another's treasure. Be extremely careful of what is thrown in the trash. When possible, use a shredder.
Cell phones are extremely convenient. They are also one of the easiest means of communication for the bad guys to monitor. Never discuss critical information on a cell phone.
Everyone has a role in OPSEC, including family members. While there is no critical information list for family members, everyone should stop to consider if what they are talking about would be of interest to someone collecting information. Information such as the cancellation of leave or work schedules can provide the adversary with another piece of the overall puzzle he/she is trying to piece together. It's everyone's job to protect their piece of the puzzle.
OPSEC also focuses on observable actions. An adversary creates a profile by simply observing people's daily activities. People increase the value of that profile to the adversary if their activities are predictable. The observable action becomes yet another piece of the overall puzzle.
If the adversary observes the same action carried out in the same way at the same time, then they can easily identify not only routine activities, but deviations as well. For example, if the same exact patrol route was followed at the exact same time every day, the patrol would quickly become predictable. If suddenly the patrol was not there, its absence could be an indication of a change to the mission.
The purpose of OPSEC is to keep the adversary guessing about our capabilities and intentions. By following the tips explained above, both on and off duty, you'll do your part to keep Airmen safe. Adversaries are real: they are listening and they want to know what you know