Staying safe while staying in touch
November 22, 2006
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROPERITY, Iraq (Army News Service, Nov. 22, 2006) - Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have only been on Camp Prosperity for about a week, and already, Soldiers are using every resource available to make contact home.
Leaders from the Black Jack Brigade uphold the importance of calling home, writing letters and e-mails and using the Internet to update blogs, but there are quiet reminders everywhere you go on the camp to uphold operational security. Whether it's posters in the call center or friendly reminders from leaders, OPSEC is a brigade priority.
"To me, OPSEC is keeping information that keeps me and everyone around me safe," said 2nd Lt. Martin Ellison, an intelligence trainer with the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment's Military Training Team.
Ellison makes contact with his family back in Fresno, Calif., as often as he can. He said that while he likes to keep in touch, he always reminds himself not to talk about certain things. He said it's not hard to remember, as it is important.
It's so important, in fact, that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Shoomaker has made it one of his top priorities, said Maj. J.P. Smith, the 2nd BCT information operations officer-in-charge.
Smith added that OPSEC isn't meant to impede 1st Amendment rights, but is instead used to keep a check on what information the enemy can possibly use against troops.
"There have been instances of the enemy using photos from a Soldier's blog in propaganda," Smith said. "You do have freedom of speech, but you have to realize there are consequences if you do the wrong thing. I don't think anyone wants to get themselves or fellow Soldiers hurt because of something they did to break OPSEC."
Talking about troop movements, timelines, upcoming missions and casualties are some of the things considered off-limits while on the Web or phone. Sometimes, however, you don't have to say anything to break OPSEC rules.
Logging off your computer and making sure you secure any type of removable memory storage device such as thumb drives, flashcards or memory sticks can help reduce the chance of information falling into the wrong hands. With many computers now using the common access card to log on and off computers, Soldiers should remember where their ID card is at all times.
"The Army is enough of a brotherhood to make it an incentive to help keep everyone safe," Ellison said. "If you want people to follow OPSEC, emphasize the importance of doing your part to keep each other safe."