The Army announced May 13 Fort Jackson's Soldier Support Institute was awarded third place in the Army's 2016 Operations Security Achievement Awards program.

Geraldo Cruzado, the OPSEC and Antiterrorism Officer for the US Army Soldier Support Institute, said it was a great honor for the unit to win the award which took support from the entire organization. Leaders in subordinate units ensured they retained a level II certified OPSEC Officer. Each Individual had to make sure the OPSEC policy and regulations were followed.

"We are a tenant unit (on Fort Jackson), yet we competed with installations Army wide" and took third place, Cruzado said. The SSI leadership take OPSEC seriously; the success of their program relies on command support at all levels.

The SSI operations officer, Chip Martin, endorsed the 2016 awards which also resulted in three TRADOC Level awards for Unit, Media and OPSEC Officer.

Martin wrote in his endorsement, in the past two years, SSI has certified more than 100 OPSEC Level II officers on post and spent more than $1.2 million in the past five years to improve its physical security by purchasing shredders, Common Access Card readers, blast resistant security doors, cameras, cipher locks and security fencing.

SSI also created unit specific OPSEC Level I training while maintaining 100 percent Level II certified OPSEC officers. SSI also increased awareness by using multimedia, assessments and partnerships with post OPSEC managers while the unit leadership fully supported the program. The institute's OPSEC officers routinely inspect trash and recycle bins to ensure classified materials are disposed of properly.

Martin also wrote, "We identified evolving OPSEC vulnerabilities, as well as determining probable compromises and applying suitable measures were also key to the strategy."
SSI also took home multiple TRADOC level awards in previous years. The institute took first place in multimedia achievement category with its "Shred that Sheet" poster, was honored with second place in the organizational category, while Cruzado was a previous first and third place winner for OPSEC officer.
Last year Maj. Joaquin DeQuintanaroo and Capt. Alicia Scott, an instructor and OPSEC officer at the Adjutant General School of the SSI, won first place for an "OPSEC Bandit" poster. These officers created the poster to promote OPSEC and encourage others to shred and secure sensitive information.
"Promoting operations security is more important than the award," said the staff action officer and retired sergeant major.

Fort Jackson's OPSEC officer, Dwight Peters, characterized SSI's program as "one of the best."

It is one of the best on Fort Jackson because of the emphasis Cruzado and SSI leadership place on it, Peters said.

This program is set apart because of "the emphasis and innovation placed on OPSEC by Mr. Cruzado," Peters added. " He encourages his team to be involved and be part of the competition with posters and articles that promotes the program. I wish we could have every OPSEC Officer as dedicated as Mr. Cruzado."

OPSEC is about preventing a compromise in Controlled Unclassified Information such as Personal Identifiable Information, Personal Health Information, Critical Information, and any sensitive mission information.

"We want to prevent any adversary from obtaining information on our Capabilities, Activities, limitations or Intentions (CALI, a good acronym to remember)," Cruzado said.