World History and the Captain America movie series share the World War II posters in common – specifically, the one with the picture of a ship and the phrase “Loose Lips Sink Ships” emblazoned underneath it. The idea behind this poster was if you talk about troop or ship movement, the enemy could get that information and use it. World War II occurred during the days of letters, phone calls, and telegrams – not the world with social media on everyone’s personal phones and computers. While the technology has changed, the main idea has remained the same – loose lips, sink ships – do not share personal or military movement publicly. This idea is called PERSEC and OPSEC.
PERSEC is Personal Security. This means a service member and family members keep themselves safe. This isn’t just about sharing when the service member is deployed or training, but also about sharing that the family may be home alone. Avoid posting a countdown clock on a social media profile. There are excel sheets entitled the “donut of misery” that you can edit on your computer, but this is not sharing the info publicly.
Avoid geo-tracking or “checking in” at certain locations on social media. Especially if you are leaving your home for an extended period of time. Yes, it is on-trend to share the comings and goings of your daily life, but digital information is still information.
Don’t share your or your children’s schools or activities – this creates a routine that others can follow you and make take advantage of that time and information.
OPSEC means Operation Security. This is self-explanatory – keeping the operation, the mission, safe and secure. This means not sharing when units deploy from a base or an area. This varies from branch to branch, and the local news may share when a ship leaves a port. It may feel like you can share if the news shares, but what they share is a little different when you share it on your personal profile. The news is sharing general information, and not specifying individuals or missions. When you personally share that the military member moved, you are sharing that your spouse or family member is on it and now you are home alone, or home without your spouse. It is smart to avoid sharing the 5 W’s of movement of military troops publicly– The Who, Where, When, What, and Why of movements. Avoid sharing what unit the military member is part of, where they are going. It may seem contrary to the sharing culture that social media has created, but sharing this information leaves the military member and you open and vulnerable.
It may feel counter-culture to not share daily while you are on vacation, or openly ask for prayers or help when your military spouse is deployed, but by not sharing those items you are using OPSEC and PERSEC. This doesn’t mean you can’t share. You can share homecoming photos after the military member has come home, you can share vacation photos after you are back. You can even share the burrito you ate if you want to without the geo-tag. It may take time to change previous habits, but operational and personal security is worth it.