By 2nd Lt. Jean Riordan, 102nd Antiterrorism Officer
/ Published August 31, 2009
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- What is OPSEC? OPSEC is short for Operational Security which has been around for years and has been used to describe the protection of valued assets. While many of us know what OPSEC means, we may not clearly understand what an acceptable boundary is that allows us to safely practice good OPSEC.
Recently, this subject matter has come to light during several local shopping mall kiosk situations. There have been cases reported throughout the United States, including Massachusetts, that have involved cells of young Israeli intelligence operatives that openly solicit relationships with U.S. military personnel, according to an informed source.
One such case involved two military members from Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. These members were reportedly approached at two different malls in town by Israeli women selling cosmetic products. The kiosk workers asked the two individuals specific questions about the Air Force.
As military members, this situation should set off the "OPSEC alarm" that we must have internally programmed.
So the question remains, 'What would be an appropriate way of handling this type of situation?'
One great practice is to keep your answer generic, focusing on the boring aspects of your job but remember never to lie. Then you can politely change the conversation to a different subject material. Your response may seem insignificant to you, but it may be just the piece the terrorist needs to finish his or her surveillance or attack plan.
As always, make yourself a hard target and send the information seekers elsewhere. When they have to work harder for the information, they take bigger risks, and it is easier for us to catch them. Terrorists have shown us that if we can throw them a curve ball, be unpredictable and mess up their plan, they'll abandon the target.