Saturday, November 12, 2011

Veteran's Day ... and OPSEC of Today

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the 
First World War, then known as "the Great War." 
Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th 
became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. 
In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, 
a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. 

Honoring those past & present who served or serve country.  We remember ... and we are thankful.  
My uncle served in the Navy in World War II ... I am thankful for his service & sacrifice for our country.  He really didn't talk about his service when I was a young girl -- he did not want the thought of war or images in the minds of us children.  He was an honorable man.  And my cousin -- his only son -- accepted the American flag at his funeral 7 years ago.  My uncle was a true patriot through and through.

And I think about my son-in-law ... G. I. Joe.  He left just one week after their wedding & spent his first year of marriage on deployment. 'Joe is military through & through.  Even little Lucy will tell you "my Daddy's a soldier" with all the pride her little 3 year old heart & voice can proclaim.  She (along with her Mommy, Grandad & Granny) are very proud of her Daddy's service to our country.  

But honoring our military from years gone by is not the same as honoring our military of today. Years ago there was no information highway ... no Internet with instant information ... and perhaps not as much curiosity as what we face today.  I will be the first to admit that I stayed glued to CNN (at the time) at the end of each day of teaching, and was transfixed on Operation Enduring Freedom. Yes, this was my "relaxation" after a day of teaching.

So, how much information is too much information?  I know that the media plays a huge role in transferring what they classify as "need to know" information ... but what about our role as ordinary citizens (whether 
a military family or a civilian family)?  How much information is too much for us to share about our loved ones who selflessly serve our country?  Or even our own family that holds down the home-front when our loved ones are serving away from our home-base?

This is where OPSEC is its most critical.  If you're not familiar with OPSEC, 
this is a quick definition from Wikipedia:

 Operations security (OPSEC) is a process that identifies critical information to 
determine if friendly actions can be observed by adversary intelligence systems, 
determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them,
and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.
You can google this and find hundreds of articles on OPSEC.  But here's a few suggestions that Granny can give you just from the top of my head:

Do not give specifics.
Do not talk about timeframes.
Do not talk about deployments.
Do not talk about missions.

Let's face it ... as military families (and civilians as well), we are proud of our military loved ones. 
However, we also need to respect the fact that their jobs are different than what we face in our everyday life here at home. So, instead of possibly putting "too much information" on our loved ones, here is a short list of alternatives that we can possibly participate:

  • Thank all of our military for their service (afterall they sacrifice time with their families - spouses, children, parents, friends -  to serve our country).
  • Get involved with any of your community Veterans Association groups.
  • Adopt a soldier through Soldier's Angels (you'd be surprised at the number of military who do not receive care packages abroad ... SA's motto is "May No Soldier Go Unloved").
  • Recognize the fact the military families are not at liberty to discuss aspects of their loved ones' military jobs. 
  • For the most part, if you know of someone who is serving abroad & you want to send them a care package, encouraging note, etc., give these items to the service member's family & they will be more than happy to include your items in their care packages. You may never know just how much your thoughtfulness means to the one abroad, and also to those holding down the home-front.
  • And it means the world to our military service member if you remember his/her spouse, children, family at home.  G. I. Joe will tell you first that he is "just doing my job", but he is more at ease when he knows that his wife & children are remembered on the home-front.  This is true whether they are husbands, wives, dads, moms, singles ... they just want their loved ones taken care of & remembered.

There's so much more that could be included in these lists.  But, these are just a few things that have come to my mind lately.  A few weeks ago I saw a doctor whose husband retired after 30+ years of military service.  She told me that the information age that we live in today is both beneficial and crucial to today's military & their families.  The world is basically at our fingertips with just the click of a few buttons.  So privacy is the most important in many aspects of holding down the home-front.

When I googled OPSEC, one of the hits gave me this image from Wikipedia ... 

I think it's worth sharing ...

and worth closing this post ... 


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