FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Some things are better left unsaid and definitely better remaining unknown to adversaries.
And Fort Rucker is one of the best in the Army at operations security as evidenced by the installation being awarded third place in the Department of the Army OPSEC Installation of the Year awards for fiscal year 2017, an achievement that Terrance Clark, installation OPSEC manager, said is nothing to scoff at.
"When you look at all the Army installations across the U.S. (and across the world), third place is not bad for a little place like Fort Rucker," said the OPSEC manager. "The comment from the inspector was that we were the first installation in the last 25-30 years to get a grade of sustained across the board in every area of inspection."
OPSEC encompasses ensuring that units and organizations take the proper steps to guard and dispose of classified information, said Clark.
The inspection process was part of a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command inspection last year that looked over 11 areas, said the OPSEC manager. To be considered for the award, Fort Rucker had to submit a written narrative listing the installation's OPSEC accomplishments throughout the year, which was compared to other installations across TRADOC, he said.
Also, during the inspection, Clark said the inspector was very thorough, even going through the waste of each unit and department to ensure no classified information was disposed of improperly.
"He pulled out his duffle bag and took out something like a Hazmat suit, and jumped right in to look through all of the trash," said the OPSEC manager. "We also took him through the recycling facility and gave him a tour."
Another area Clark said the inspector was impressed with was with the Capabilities Development Integration Directorate.
"The CDID handles research and development that covers fixed-wing, cargo, rotor-wing and unmanned aerial vehicles," he said. "We have a very robust CDID program, and he commented that our CDID program was spot on (when it came to OPSEC)."
Clark said that one of the ways he made sure the installation was well prepared was to make sure that the installation's OPSEC operators were all speaking the same language.
"When I took the program over, from March to September of last year, I instituted a program for a one-on-one sit down with every operator on the installation to bring their materials in so we could mirror our criteria so that all of it would be the same," he said. "That way, it didn't matter which section you went to, it was all the same."
That preparation also helped check all the boxes needed for the inspection, but despite the installation's successful OPSEC program, Clark said it takes each operator and officer doing their job to make sure classified information stays safe.
"It takes a team effort and everyone doing their job," said the OPSEC manager. "My job is to make sure everyone has the tools they need to operate, so it takes everyone doing what they do on a daily basis to make the whole program a success."
Although being awarded third place for OPSEC Installation of the Year is a nice accolade to have, Clark said it's not the reason the installation works hard to keep up with OPSEC.
"Fort Rucker is unique," he said. "If you look across Fort Rucker, there is a lot here that (enemies) would be interested in, especially when it comes to aircraft and student training, because this is the home of Army Aviation.
"It's very important that we, on a daily basis, do our job to protect all classified information, from training doctrine to how we operate on a daily basis -- all of that stuff is secure," he continued. "Especially in the world we live in now that makes it too easy to get information out. When we train people (on OPSEC), we make sure that they know that documents that are (for official use only) never lose their original classification. If it was FOUO in 1967, then it's still FOUO today, and you still have to keep those same security concerns for that document until it's downgraded or destroyed," adding that the award is a testament to the way people on Fort Rucker are trained when it comes to OPSEC.