Protect your OPSEC

Commentary by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Kentucky National Guard hosted Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 1st Information Operations Command to provide OPSEC level 2 training in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 29-31, 2019. (U.S. Army National Guard photo illustration by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – As I sat down in the classroom in the Emergency Operations Center building on Boone National Guard Center, where I was about to spend the better part of the next three days, I looked around and saw a lot of officers and senior non-commissioned officers around me. We were all there for the Operations Security Level Two class Jan. 29-31.

Since I’m a staff sergeant, I felt like I might be out of my depth.

I’ve been in the National Guard for thirteen years and thought I had the whole OPSEC idea down. I’ve sat through numerous classes about it. Memorized the concepts of “Loose Lips, Sink Ships” so I didn’t know what I was going to get out of this class.

Little did I know, I had a lot to learn.

First of all, the class was not a longer version of the power point presentation your unit puts out. It was an administrative “how to” lesson on how to head up your own units ‘OPSEC’ program.

The instructors from the 1st Battalion, 1st Information Operations Command were very thorough in their instruction and laid out what was expected of each of us to get a passing grade.

Several vignettes where presented where we had to break out in groups and discuss the issues and problems that were in each scenario and use skills that would be important come the final test for the class.

The group sessions allowed us to learn each of the concepts of the 5-step process of OPSEC. Each of the steps is integral in successfully executing an OPSEC plan.  From knowing what you are protecting to knowing how and what your adversaries can use to gain that information, knowing the process helps understand what you need to do to keep that information safe.

Five-steps of OPSEC process

  1. Identify critical information.
  2. Analyze threats.
  3. Analyze vulnerabilities.
  4. Assess risk.
  5. Apply OPSEC measures.

The most important thing I took away from the course, is that information, no matter how small can be put together like a puzzle to build a picture for our enemy. These puzzle pieces that profile our habits and associations can serve as flags or markers that our enemy can then use to their advantage.

We also discovered the use of social media, albeit a great tool for communication, is also our greatest enemy when it comes to keeping our information safe. Making every Soldier and Airman aware of the importance of what is put on their social media platforms is as important as the training they receive to carry out the mission. It won’t matter how good a sniper is if the enemy knows that sniper’s plans prior to heading out for the mission. Having a mission compromised puts lives in danger and adds costs to the American taxpayer. Protecting our assets is of the utmost importance.

Overall, I would have to say I really enjoyed the course and would recommend it to anyone who wants to further their knowledge on OPSEC issues or are put in charge of their units important information. The information I’ve taken away from the course will serve me well as I further my Army career.