FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Aug. 30, 2012) -- Operations security is a key component of antiterrorism and force protection, helping protect service members, civilian employees, families, facilities and equipment everywhere by denying information.

Operations security is not a specific category of information. It is a process for identifying, controlling and protecting generally unclassified information which, if known to a competitor or adversary, could be used to our disadvantage.

One of the first steps to consider when developing an OPSEC process traditionally involves identifying critical information. Service members, civilian employees and family members should always be mindful about potential adversaries who seek to discover critical information about our military communities and military missions.

Critical information deals with specific facts about military intentions, capabilities, operations or activities. Even though information may not be secret, it is called "critical information."

If an adversary knew this detailed information, our mission and personnel safety could be jeopardized. Critical information must be protected to ensure an adversary doesn't gain a significant advantage.

Examples of critical information include:

* Detailed information about the mission of assigned units

* Details on locations and times of unit deployments

* Personnel transactions that occur in large numbers (Example: pay information, powers of attorney, wills and deployment information)

* References to trends in unit morale or personnel problems

* Details concerning security procedures

This information may seem insignificant. However, to a trained adversary, they are small pieces of a puzzle that highlight what a military unit is doing and planning.

Remember, the elements of security and surprise are vital to the accomplishment of our goals and our collective personnel protection.

When it comes to protecting critical information, there are several things individuals can do. They include editing emails for operational security before sending them, using encryption emails to protect sensitive information and shredding and using burn bags to destroy notes and documents with Social Security numbers, personal records, home addresses and reports that reflect our strengths, assets and future operations.

Where and how you discuss critical information is just as important as with whom you discuss it with. Adverse agents tasked with collecting information frequently visit some of the same stores, clubs, recreational areas or places of worship as you do.

Determined individuals can easily collect data from trash cans, cordless and cellular phones, and even baby monitors, using inexpensive receivers available from local electronics stores.

Remember, it's everyone's job to protect critical information. You cannot afford to let your guard down. Your diligence in OPSEC is key to ensuring our effectiveness in operations and our collective safety.

If anyone persistently seeks information, notify your unit OPSEC program manager.

If you see suspicious activity on or near Fort Meade, call the Fort Meade Police at 301-677-2619.

Editor's note: August is the Army's Antiterrorism Awareness Month. Fort Meade's ultimate goal in preventing a terrorist attack is to include every organization, unit and person in the effort to prevent that possibility.

For more information on the Army's antiterrorism protection measures, call Tony Davis, Fort Meade operations security officer, at 301-677-2635.

Page last updated Thu August 30th, 2012 at 00:00