By Valerie Collins (Leonard Wood)December 6, 2017
Operational security is a topic all Soldiers are trained to adhere to daily. However, this is not a topic many would associate with holiday travel.
Rick Bowser, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence operational security manager, wants everyone to play an active role in their own security during the holidays.
For those service members and families traveling for the holidays, Bowser suggests having a plan and knowing the possible threats that may hinder those plans.
"Map out how to protect yourself in a worst-case scenario," Bowser said. He said it is important to keep your plans vague when posting on social media.
If you are expecting a service member home for the holidays, Bowser wants everyone to remember that social media is not the appropriate place to post travel dates or movement details. The same is true when traveling as a family. Countdowns and social media "check-ins" are tools that help predators track you.
Being part of the military community is something people tend to like sharing, but Bowser said to avoid advertising military affiliation. This means packing away the government-issued identification, use luggage and bags without unit/branch patches, and do not carry packets that are clearly marked "for official use," such as travel orders.
"No matter who you are, what your pay grade or your rank -- you are still a potential target," Bowser said.
Before leaving home, Bowser said to set your lights on a timer if you can. He said it is even better if you can avoid having your lights go on and off at the same time, as this can show a pattern and tip off a predator that you are not there. He recommends using variable timers or using your smartphone to turn the lights on and off at random times during the day.
Bowser said to remember the GPS setting on your smartphone and/or tablets can give away your location, which can leave you vulnerable to theft. Be sure to change those settings especially when posting to social media during a trip.
For more OPSEC tips to keep you safe throughout the year, visit www.facebook.com/usarmyopsec/.