Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pet Peeves : OPSEC vs PERSEC

Let me start this off by saying that I love the fact that more and more military spouses are beginning to understand the importance of keeping OPSEC. While I still (constantly!) come across people who break OPSEC like it's their job, I am also seeing a lot more wives taking it seriously.

That being said...

It seems like there are a lot  of wives out there who do not understand the difference between OPSEC and PERSEC. Contrary to popular belief, they are not the same thing.

OPSEC stands for Operational Security. It means that you can't post things like where our service members are, what their mission is, dates of deployment/homecoming/port calls, if communications are up or down and things like that. Basically you don't want to give away any information concerning our troops. Once the military has released this information you're fine, but not until then.

For those of you who want the Dr Seuss version:

Sam I am.

Do you like OPSEC and ham?
I do not get it, Sam I am.
I do not get OPSEC and ham.
We must use it here and there.
We must use it everywhere.
You CAN share it in a car.
But you CANNOT in a bar.
You CANNOT share it in a text.
You CANNOT share it at the NEX.
You CAN say it in your house.
But should NOT tell a random spouse.
You CAN say it in the shower.
But do NOT go sharing at happy hour.
DON'T make the Ombudsman sweat.
DON'T post it on the Internet.
You CANNOT share it in a tweet.
That would not be very sweet.
Beware of Facebook and Myspace too.
It's tempting to let your feelings through.
You Cannot tell it to a friend.
NOT even at the very end.
It is a privilege to know a date.
DON'T tell ANYONE or they may be late!
Oh, I get it, Sam I am.
Now I get OPSEC and ham!
I will not tell anyone. I will keep hushed until they're done!
I will not tell him or her. I will not tell my dog with fur.
I will not tell my child's teacher. I will not tell any creature.
Thank you, THANK YOU, Sam I am.
Thank you for clearing up OPSEC and Ham!!!

I'm really getting tired of people thinking that Facebook is 'secure' because you can change your privacy settings. I really don't know how many more pages have to get hacked before everyone realizes that Facebook is not secure! And yes, that means the messages you send through Facebook are also a risk.

Remember, everything you post is another piece to the puzzle.

PERSEC stands for Personal Security. This is where a lot of wives seem to get confused. I've seen wives trying to correct each other about what they can and cannot post and claim that it is all OPSEC. This isn't true.

The whole point of PERSEC is to give you a guideline to help keep you safe at home. Posting pictures of yourself and family online, posting that you're leaving for a vacation, pictures of your service member in uniform with a visible name tape, mentioning how your husband is deployed and you're all alone, posting about that awesome 60 inch plasma you just bought...these are all examples of PERSEC. You can post it if you want, but they recommend avoiding this to keep you safe from people who would target you. Military families are often seen as an easy target come deployment time.

Consider this : There are bumper stickers you can buy that say "My heart is on _______". Cute, right? I mean we're all proud of our men, why not show it? The problem with those bumper stickers is that it's very easy to find out which ships are on deployment. If someone is looking for an easy target, you just gave it to them. They know your husband is deployed, you're probably home alone with the kids (if you have any) and all it takes is for them to follow you home to know where you live. 

The military has even been toying with the idea of getting rid of base stickers. Why? Because it makes you a target. The Air Force got rid of them back in 2007.

You aren't breaking the law by breaking PERSEC, it is your choice to post these things. You should think before posting, but if you don't that's on you.

So before you get your panties in a twist over something another wife posted, stop and consider if it is actually an OPSEC violation or not. If it is either (nicely) let them know, or contact your ombudsman. If it is just a PERSEC issue don't harass them over it.

And in the wise, wise words of Wil Wheaton... Don't be a dick!

Wil Wheaton's Blog :


  1. The VAST majority of rapes and assaults are committed by people close enough to already know, without a bumper sticker, that your significant other is deployed. #adviceforwomen

  2. Granted, but don't forget that it also leaves you open to being robbed - something that is becoming more and more common. A lot of commands are warning people not to even "check in" on Facebook because thanks to geotagging and such it isn't hard to figure out where you are, how long you'll be gone, and if they have time to rob you!

    Better safe than sorry, IMO.


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