The COVID-19 global environment hasn’t stopped adversaries from probing U.S. defenses. The threats are real and growing across the globe.
Adversaries require intelligence to accomplish their objectives, which is why operations security is essential to support the Army’s efforts to deter aggression, dominate adversaries and win the nation’s wars.
“OPSEC is critical to mission success in today’s multi-domain environment,” said Brig. Gen. James Bonner, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. “When the Army says ‘Winning Matters,’ we cannot win – we cannot keep our missions and people safe – without OPSEC.”
“We must keep our mission and our team safe,” he added. “We must instill the importance of maintaining operations security, including what to protect and how, as we lead and inspire our workforce, trainees and students.”
OPSEC is not just a set of right and wrong rules. It is a five-step risk management process used to identify critical information, assess the threat and vulnerabilities, analyze risk and develop measures to protect the mission and save lives.
Maintaining OPSEC starts with identifying mission-critical information that needs to be protected. In most cases, this safeguarded information is unclassified, but not publicly-releasable without authorization.
Critical information may be compiled as a critical information list, and is typically 10 items or less, easy to understand and signed by the commander. The CIL may vary by mission.
Once signed, the CIL is punitive under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or the equivalent for Army civilian and contracted personnel.
One way to avoid an information compromise is to use the acronym OPSEC as a memory device and do not disclose the following information to anyone who does not need to know:
O – Operations
Information regarding operational activities of a unit, such as movement dates, times and locations.
P – Personnel
Information that involves personnel information including personally identifiable information and personal health information.
S – Security
Security of a unit, its documents, communications or protection measures.
E – Equipment
Equipment numbers, types, capabilities, photos and operational status.
C – Capabilities
Any information about force capabilities an adversary could use.
Safeguarding sensitive information and controlling indicators that give away critical information reduces the ability for adversaries to accomplish their objectives.
OPSEC starts at the source. Every service member, civilian and contractor needs to know what information requires protection, what activities might reveal critical information, and question and clarify any order that directs a release by exception to policy.
Each of us needs to be aware of what we are saying, where we are saying it and who may have the ability to eavesdrop.
“Leaders must practice proper OPSEC in every environment, in every conversation and in using electronic devices and social media,” Bonner said.
For more information, review the MSCoE OPSEC plan and CIL, available to Common Access Card users from the Fort Leonard Wood home page, https://home.army.mil/wood, or contact the Fort Leonard Wood OPSEC office at 573.563.2402.
(Editor’s note: Yoshida is the OPSEC Program Manager at Fort Leonard Wood and works for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.)