Commentary

August 20, 2012

A moment on the lips will surely delay trips

by SSgt. Gina M. Paige
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho

There is nothing more satisfying than holding my husband in a long embrace after six-months of separation. Even after several deployments, it just doesn’t seem to get old.

While our significant others are gone we have this sense of pride – a right to brag about where they are and what they are doing – but what we don’t realize is the impact this can have, not only to our loved ones but all members at their deployed location.

I was at a local business recently and overheard a woman on the phone. I could tell she was talking to her spouse and just by their conversation, I knew he was deployed. She finished up her phone call while paying the cashier and went on to discuss how her husband was at a particular location and that she could still talk to him over the phone.

I sat there in shock for a moment as I pondered what I heard. As a Public Affairs specialist I know his location was an “undisclosed” and is not releasable. As I sat there thinking to myself, I realized many military members and their spouses may not know any better and do not realize the negative effects a small, friendly conversation could have.

In 2009, my husband was deployed with his unit of more than 300 personnel. I was so eager for his return home as this was our first separation. I went into work the morning before his projected return date and was greeted with an email in my inbox. I was excited to just know he was safe somewhere on the globe. I read the first line, and my heart sank, “I can’t tell you what happened and I don’t know when I will be home, but I am okay, and I love you.”

We later learned a member of the unit emailed their significant other the details of their departure and arrival information. The information fell into the wrong hands, and the base was attacked and put on lockdown. The decision of one person put their entire unit, and base, in jeopardy.

Today’s technology has made it easy for our enemies to track troop movements and missions. Simple things like status updates and photos on social media sites can give terrorists “pieces of the puzzle” – a term known as aggregation.

I am just as proud of my spouse as anyone else is of theirs, and want the world to know just how great he is. However, their safety is critical to mission success. It’s up to us as military members, dependents, family and friends to ensure we keep our Airmen safe as they continue overseas contingency operations.

Contact your unit or base OPSEC manager for more information on how to safeguard potentially sensitive information.

 




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