Wednesday, December 07, 2005

OPSEC Isn't Just for Bloggers Anymore

Anybody Know We're At War?

Well, it's o'dark thirty here and I was listening to the radio, Fox 101.1 here in Kansas City. A nice way to start out the morning. The morning team was on and they had an email from a contractor stationed over in Iraq. He said the guy was an "L-3" (truck driver?). He was talking about an exciting moment on base.

He was walking to his hooch (which the morning team said, "I think that's the chow hall", no) when they got mortared. Two rounds came in and then three, finally a warning came over the PA and said that this was not a test, seek shelter. The guy ran to the shelter and then his email talked a few moments about the soldiers he was with. Little amusing descriptors of their character, no names, that's good.

Then, they made a mistake which for a moment I couldn't believe I just heard. He continues reading the email and the writer says, "it took XX minutes for the QRF to fire up and go after the attackers". Obviously, I am not writing the actual number of minutes that they said live on public radio also accessible by the internet. The radio guy goes on to explain what a QRF is (actually correct this time) and then he goes on to read the email when the guy says, "XX later we got the all clear" again giving out the specific amount of time between attack, warning to seek shelter and the all clear.

Call me paranoid, but my first thoughts were "Holy Shit!" Maybe somebody listens, maybe somebody doesn't. Maybe a completely innocent person listens to the radio and then repeats the information to somebody else or, like me, writes it on the web or emails the story to somebody else, who...well, if you follow this blog then its likely you follow the military blogs and you understand concerns about how information gets from one place to the other and the danger it poses in our new, super connected world. For that matter, how many people were on this guy's contact list that received this same email?

Am I too close to this stuff and too damned paranoid? Is it me or don't the contractors need to adhere to the same opsec rules? Who monitors this stuff? Who issues the rules for information release for contractors?

I think this bozo who thought he was amusing is actually a bozo who has no idea how information about time between attacks and QRF response can be used by his attackers to kill him, the men he serves with and any number of other military and contract personnel any place else in Iraq or Afghanistan. I think these folks have some mistaken idea that releasing this information back in the US some how makes it safe.

In either case, call me paranoid or over reacting, I looked these folks up, called the studio and said:

First of all, a hooch is a place to sleep, not the chow hall.

Second, as amusing as the email was, the radio should not be repeating information about how long it takes the QRF to respond or how long before the all clear is given."

Somebody gets that information and waits until XX time has passed, knows that people are now walking around after the all clear and hammers them with mortars again.

The guy who answered the phone sounded a little ticked. I wish I had gotten his name. He said, "is there anything else?" I said, "No. I just don't think its a good idea to repeat that information. Thank you."

Now, this is not some "give me a pat on the back post". What I really want to know is, does anybody know what the opsec rules are for our contractors are and who is responsible for enforcing them?

Finally, does anybody in this F*ing country know we're at war? Or, do they think that those body count numbers are all from traffic accidents? Maybe the enemy is a bunch of cave dwellers with sticks that gets all their kills by accident?

There's an illusion around here that we back in the states do not impact what happens over there. We don't have sweet campaigns like "loose lips sink ships". I think people really think the enemy doesn't know how to use the internet and open source information or speaks english or listens to the TV or radio or that there is anyone here in the US that would be interested in getting that information and passing it on.

I'm not suggesting that I know of any sympathizers or sleeper cells trolling the internet radio stations in Kansas City, but why take the risk?

The point is, we don't know and apparently, we don't know we're at war.

God save us from fools and damned idiots.

PS..I didn't identify myself when I called. I wonder if an anonymous call saying not to repeat that information scared the crap out of them? Then again, with media types, they may think they're being censored. Oh, well.

1 comment:

Synova said...

LOL about the anonymous call maybe scaring the crap out of them.

And *yes* you are definately correct about giving out times for operations to take place. That should be common sense. "Stuff" works because it's been reduced to a set and planned response so that everyone knows what they are supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it. Knowing the trained responses of the *other side* is vital. I think it is just common sense to people who use that sort of information against the enemy to know to keep that information about themselves held close. I've read some milblogs that seem to go a bit heavy on details but mostly they're pretty good, even when talking about specific operations.

As for civilian contractors... ack. I'm afraid this is one area where I hold my few years of military service as the right to roll my eyes and mutter about "civilians." But that's mostly from having listened to DoDS employees whine about having their freedom of movement limited in the PI just because Americans were being targeted and killed. People *in* the military tend to understand the basic reality that they've sacrificed certain rights and freedoms for a greater cause. Civilians never did that and, IME, tend to not "get" the idea of voluntarily limiting their own freedom of speech.