The Chief of Staff of the Army has sent out new guidance regarding Military blogs and Operational Security (OPSEC). Below is the message from General Peter Schoomaker as it was sent to me. The message below that one is from February:
1. OPSEC IS A CHAIN OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY. IT IS SERIOUS BUSINESS AND WE MUST DO A BETTER JOB ACROSS THE ARMY. THE ENEMY AGGRESSIVELY "READS" OUR OPEN SOURCE AND CONTINUES TO EXPLOIT SUCH INFORMATION FOR USE AGAINST OUR FORCES. SOME SOLDIERS CONTINUE TO POST SENSITIVE INFORMATION TO INTERNET WEBSITES AND BLOGS, E.G., PHOTOS DEPICTING WEAPON SYSTEM VULNERABILITIES AND TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, AND PROCEDURES. SUCH OPSEC VIOLATIONS NEEDLESSLY PLACE LIVES AT RISK AND DEGRADE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF OUR OPERATIONS.
2. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS ISSUE HAS SURFACED THE VICE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY PREVIOUSLY ADDRESSED THIS VIA MESSAGE IN FEBRUARY 2005. TAKE A HARD LOOK AT HIS GUIDANCE.
3. LEADERS AT ALL LEVELS MUST TAKE CHARGE OF THIS ISSUE AND GET THE MESSAGE DOWN TO THE LOWEST LEVELS. TO ASSIST YOU, THE HQDA G-2 AND THE OPSEC SUPPORT ELEMENT ARE DEVELOPING A TRAINING MODULE AND ARE FORMING A MOBILE TRAINING TEAM TO ASSIST IN TRAINING YOUR SOLDIERS. DETAILS WILL BE PROVIDED NLT 2 SEPTEMBER 2005. HQDA G-6 (IN COORDINATION WITH G-2) IS DIRECTED TO TRACK AND REPORT, ON A QUARTERLY BASIS, OPEN SOURCE OPSEC VIOLATIONS. AN INTERIM CHANGE TO AR 530-1, OPERATIONS SECURITY, WILL BE PUBLISHED VIA MESSAGE WITHIN 30 DAYS WHICH WILL CONTAIN CLEAR POLICY CONCERNING THE POSTING OF SENSITIVE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET.
4. GET THE WORD OUT AND FOCUS ON THIS ISSUE NOW. I EXPECT TO SEE IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT.
5. EXPIRATION DATE OF THIS ALARACT IS UNDETERMINED.
PETER J. SCHOOMAKER, GEN, CSA
PASS TO ALL ARMY LEADERS O5 (LTC) OR EQUIVALENT AND ABOVE:
1. THE ENEMY IS ACTIVELY SEARCHING THE UNCLASSIFIED NETWORKS FOR INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY SENSITIVE PHOTOS, IN ORDER TO OBTAIN TARGETING DATA, WEAPONS SYSTEM VULNERABILITIES, AND TTPs FOR USE AGAINST THE COALITION. A MORE AGGRESSIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD PROTECTING FRIENDLY INFORMATION IS VITAL TO MISSION SUCCESS. THE ENEMY IS A PRO AT EXPLOITING OUR OPSEC VULNERABILITIES.
2. IT IS CRITICAL TO REMIND OUR PEOPLE THAT THE NEGLIGENT OR UNAUTHORIZED RELEASE OF SENSITIVE PHOTOS IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO OUR FORCES. LEADERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO:
2.A. REMIND ALL PERSONNEL THAT THE ENEMY WILL EXPLOIT SENSITIVE PHOTOS SHOWING THE RESULTS OF IED STRIKES, BATTLE SCENES, CASUALTIES, DESTROYED OR DAMAGED EQUIPMENT, AND ENEMY KIAs AS PROPAGANDA AND TERRORIST TRAINING TOOLS. FOR EXAMPLE, ANNOTATED PHOTOS OF AN ABRAMS TANK PENETRATED BY AN RPG ARE EASILY FOUND ON THE INTERNET. CAPTURED INSURGENT PAMPHLETS CONTAIN HAND DRAWINGS AND INSTRUCTIONS ON WHAT INSURGENTS
BELIEVE ARE VULNERABLE PENETRATION POINTS ON TANKS, HMMWVS, BRADLEY FIGHTING VEHICLES, AND HELICOPTERS. RELEASING PHOTOS OUTSIDE OFFICIAL, PROTECTED CHANNELS MAY ALLOW THE ENEMY MATERIAL FOR HIS INFORMATION OPERATIONS AND TARGETING TTP AGAINST FRIENDLY FORCES. INSURGENTS ALSO USE WEBSITES TO COMMUNICATE, TRAIN, AND RECRUIT FOLLOWERS, OFTEN USING PHOTOS/VIDEO OF THEIR BATTLEFIELD SUCCESSES. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO HAVE OUR PHOTOS BECOME TRAINING AND RECRUITMENT TOOLS FOR
2.B. INFORM YOUR PERSONNEL THAT WE COULD UNWITTINGLY MAGNIFY ENEMY CAPABILITIES SIMPLY BY EXCHANGING PHOTOS WITH FRIENDS, RELATIVES, OR BY PUBLISHING THEM ON THE INTERNET OR OTHER MEDIA. WE ARE NOT LIMITING AUTHORIZED COMMUNICATION (TO INCLUDE THE APPROPRIATE USE OF PHOTOS) UNDER EXISTING PUBLIC AFFAIRS GUIDANCE, BUT WE MUST PROTECT PHOTOS THAT REVEAL TO THE ENEMY OUR BATTLE LOSSES, ONGOING FRIENDLY OPERATIONS, TTP, EQUIPMENT VULNERABILITIES, OR DISCLOSE INTELLIGENCE COLLECTION EFFORTS AND METHODS. MOREOVER, WE MUST PROTECT INFORMATION THAT MAY HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON FOREIGN RELATIONS WITH COALITION ALLIES OR WORLD OPINION.
3. OUR MISSION SUCCESS AND SOLDIERS LIVES DEPEND ON AGGRESSIVELY DENYING THE ENEMY ANY ADVANTAGE. I NEED YOUR FOCUS ON THIS CRITICAL ISSUE.
4. EXPIRATION DATE OF THIS ALARACT CANNOT BE DETERMINED.
RICHARD A. CODY, GEN, VCSA
I have seen a few violations of OPSEC in the form of Photos and Video footage. But not much in the way of description of tactics that could not be found in an Army manual from a Army-Navy surplus store or on EBay.
This is exactly what John Hockenberry meant when he said that the MilBloggers that he talked to thought that, in the future, Military Blogging would be severely restricted. I was one of those bloggers that told him that based on a lot of things.
Primarily, OIF iterations have been experiments in the expeditionary force theory, and technology and communications are a part of that experiment. I think that the Generals will, in future expeditions, rule that blogs as risking much more than they are gaining, and that will be unfortunate, indeed.
Military Bloggers must now be very, very aware that one mistake might, at best, get all of the MilBloggers shut down, and, at worst, cost lives.
Dadmanly gets it right (as usual). Go see what the good First Sergeant has to say about this new OPSEC message.
John Donovan also has an interesting take on it.
Interestingly, Austin Bay attended a conference about the military and the media. General Schoomaker should seek out Bay on this topic.