Operations Security, or OPSEC, is one of the many tools that can increase our level of safety and security, whether at home, school or work. Raising the degree of difficulty for a ‘bad guy’ can make them move onto another, “softer” area or community – one which doesn’t take security quite as seriously. This is one reason why certain neighborhoods are considered safer than others – the neighbors apply a basic form of OPSEC, often without realizing it.
Nearly everything that a person does leaves some sort of a trace, or is part of some sort of pattern. The criminal element is especially skilled at picking up on these patterns that we may not even realize exist. Consider this fictional scenario – one that’s not far from the reality that many of us live:
Every day, a woman wakes up at 6 a.m. to her alarm clock. Like many of us, she’s timed her routine, and knows at what time she must wake up in order to have time to shower and eat breakfast before leaving for work. Every day at the same time, she leaves at the same time, to take the same route, after which she’ll be gone for the same amount of time, when she’ll arrive at the same time of the evening, depending on traffic.
That, in and of itself, is a relatively harmless routine. But it creates a pattern. And if that pattern is observed, the time that her house is unattended is known, as is her route to and from work. A thief, if he were to target her home, would know when an opportune time to break in was, and which route to watch for her return. Could that be avoided? Perhaps not. Maybe her schedule is tight, and a certain route is by far the most efficient. She may not always be able to alter her routine in order to make detection more difficult, but this simple example demonstrates how easy the determination of potentially critical information may be.
The key to using OPSEC to protect one’s home or community is to look at the area in the eyes of an adversary. This is referred to as “thinking like the wolf.” When looking at one’s neighborhood, it quickly becomes clear which homes represent a “softer” target, which itself can invite the presence of crime into a community. The families that are on vacation can stand out when they let the mail or newspapers pile up, don’t mow the lawn or don’t have lights come on at home.
By taking the first step and considering one’s life and surroundings from the eyes of an adversary, a home, and even the surrounding community, will be more like a castle, and less like a criminal’s yard sale. To learn more about OPSEC contact the NTC OPSEC Program at 380-8407 or visit the following online resources: