What is OPSEC/PERSEC

Operational Security (OPSEC) and Personal Security (PERSEC) can be confusing to new military families. And depending on WHO you ask you may receive different answers. The key to OPSEC/PERSEC can be simple if you ask yourself the following questions. If you answer NO then you are good-to-go!

  1. SOCIAL POSTING - Am I posting a specific location or address of my service member (not including recruit training). Do I practice covering name tags when posting images of my service member? Am I posting financial data, account numbers, or social security numbers.
  2. IMAGES - Am I posting an image with any signs or geographic markers that would expose my service members location? Am I posting an image with a weapon (expect for ceremony)?
  3. DATES/LOCATIONS - Am I posting future deployment dates or locations of my service member (not including recruit training)? Has the information I am posting been publicly announced by the military or DoD? 

MAIL

Writing letters and postcards to your recruit is not a violation of OPSEC or PERSEC. Sending letters through USPS with your recruit's address and your return address on letters is normal and doesn't violate OPSEC/PERSEC. Mail sent to recruit training facilities or A-Schools, both electronically or handwritten, is not a violation. The USPS, Federal Express, and UPS follow high standards of security and privacy. MondayDelivery and LetterTrac are both OPSEC/PERSEC compliant.

See below for examples

OPSEC
Today, keeping information safeguarded is known as OPSEC or Operational Security. This is an incredibly important task for military members, military families and friends. We never know who may be listening or trying to gain information about our military. For this reason, it is always important to make sure that information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

First and foremost, those who serve in the military should not be sharing sensitive information with others who are not in the military. It is important to realize that this may even include sharing pictures online. A seemingly innocent picture can actually provide a lot of information to the enemy including weapons systems and location.

If those in the military do not share information with family members or friends, it is much less likely that they will slip up and say something that could put the military member or his unit in danger. He should always be aware of what he is saying when he is sharing information about his day. This is particularly true when he is away training or when he is deployed overseas.

PERSEC
PERSEC is protecting your personal information. While the military is not as strict on PERSEC as they are on OPSEC, it is still an important aspect of security. PERSEC focuses on protecting information such as rank, your home address and information about your family. Generally, it is basic common sense that reminds you not to advertise that you are living alone or otherwise giving out personal information to others who you may not know.

PERSEC has become more important with the growth of the internet, particularly with the number of military support message boards that are out there. While it may seem to be a safe community full of other military members, it can never be guaranteed to be 100% secure. For this reason, you should always safeguard your personal information. Just as you wouldn’t advertise your social security number online, you shouldn’t alert everyone to your other personal information either.

The absolute best advice is that it is better to be safe than sorry. If you question whether you should be talking about something, especially online, then don’t. Ask someone first, such as your service member, before you say something that you may not be able to take back. Protecting our military members is a responsibility that rests on all of our shoulders. As family members and friends, we can be responsible by keeping confidential information close to the vest and protecting what we know.

Recommended and Best Practices:

  • This is OK - Discussions of school and training (not mission-specific) while a recruit/military member is attending recruit or follow-on schools, i.e., A-Schools, are permitted.
  • You may discuss events such as BST 21 or the crucible - however, it is recommended to practice not sharing expected dates, even if they are estimations. However, it is ok to say, "My recruit should be starting BST this week..." or "My recruit is graduating this week," or "I received my "I am a Sailor" call. 
  • You may ask other members what DIV/SHIP, Company, Hall, etc. 
  • Sharing images of your new military member in their uniform is permitted, but for practice, you should block their name tags.
  • Sharing images of your new military member is permitted, as long as base signs or identifying geographic markers are not shown.
  • All content must conform to military and troop Operational Security. Troop is defined as a group of military personnel. Do not discuss troop operations including movement, missions, logistics, numbers, locations, dates, and/or morale.
  • Missions include but are not limited to engagement, training exercises, patrols, delivery of supplies, delivery of mail, meeting with locals. If your Sailor is sharing his/her troop activities with you, don’t share it in the community.
  • Posts identifying your Sailor’s specific billet in conjunction with a mission whether past, present or future, will not be allowed.
  • Identification of a Sailor in a high-security billet or MOS is not allowed.
  • Mail should not include images of weapons, nudity, or other offensive photos.
  • Mail should not include future deployment addresses or locations.
  • Mail should not include financial data, account numbers, or social security numbers.

Examples of PERSEC:

  • While Facebook requires you to use your last name in your profile, we discourage you from sharing your recruit or military member last name in any social media environment.
  • Personal information about yourself, your military member or recruit, or other members should be limited to trusted sources, including addresses, emails, and phone numbers. 
  • No one can prove who a person is from viewing a Facebook profile or asking a few questions. Facebook groups are not secure regardless of who the Admins and Moderators are—even those who claim military-only memberships

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