Operational Security (OPSEC) is a risk management process where it limits and avoids friendly (Ukraine) information getting into the hands of the enemy (Russia). This information can be as simple as location, names, personnel, equipment, time and date, and other personally identifiable information (PII).
Bad OPSEC can have deadly consequences. On March 13, 2022, Russia bombed the Yaroviv military base near Lviv, killing over 30 individuals. This base was the first stop for foreign volunteers going into Ukraine.
The above social media post showed friendly information (location, personnel, date and time) that could have given the enemy forces necessary intel to conduct a military strike.
We might do best to recall the media campaign the U.S. government used during WWII. “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships,” is still very applicable today – maybe even more so due to social media. But this doesn’t just apply to social media posts. Just like in WWII, this also applies to telephone calls and word-of-mouth.
We ask all of our volunteers to remember their OPSEC. It could be the difference between life and death. If you are a volunteer, entering into Ukraine or surrounding areas, we know you’re excited to share your experiences with family and friends. You can still make a post, tweet, or share a video without compromising your own security and the security of those you serve with. When in doubt, ask a colleague to review your post or tweet before making it. Ask yourself a series of questions, like “could this hurt me if it gets into the wrong hands?”
For friends and family of our volunteers, it’s important that you too remember OPSEC. Sharing unnecessary information could put your loved one in harm’s way.
And for our friends in the public media space, we encourage you to value our volunteer’s OPSEC. Allow aliases, face coverings, and remove any identifiable information before your broadcasts.
Together – we can do this. We can keep each other safe while serving in hostile environments. Just remember to watch your OPSEC.