Operations Security

Operations Security or OPSEC. This may not seem like the most engaging of topics, but it’s vitally important to the success of our mission.  Our adversaries have become adept at monitoring, collecting and benefiting from our open source information.  Properly executed, Operations Security protects critical information and prevents an adversary from determining our intentions or capabilities.

Our focus on OPSEC needs to move beyond our annual required training and become a part of our day-to-day thought process and decision making.



Last year the Secretary of the Navy released an updated Operations Security instruction (SECNAVINST 3070.2). The instruction was followed up with an ALNAV message that reiterated the importance of OPSEC and our need to be significantly more vigilant in what we say and do.  The ALNAV highlighted that the “exploitation of internet based capabilities, publicly released information, and other UNCLASSIFIED but potentially sensitive data gives adversaries the ability to undermine our technological edge, threaten our personnel, and potentially compromise our operations.”

This is a sobering assessment and should energize us to be engaged in OPSEC best practices in everything we do.

The commanders of the U.S. Fleet Forces and the Pacific Fleet detailed in a recent joint message, “OPSEC is an imperative program for all hands and must be part of our Navy culture. The alternative is unacceptable.”

We should apply common sense every day to protect our operations from inadvertent release of sensitive information. Information concerning ship schedules, cargo and plans is potentially sensitive and should only be disclosed to responsible personnel and organizations that have a legitimate need-to-know.  The decision to release information should only be made after a risk assessment is conducted and the commander has accepted the risk.  Admittedly, the nature of our working relationships with commercial partners makes this particularly challenging for MSC; however, we must be smart in how we share and communicate information.

All this points to the need to operationalize OPSEC. The tenets of good OPSEC must be integrated into our operational and contingency planning processes and mission execution.

Together, let’s think carefully about what we are doing and saying, and how our communication could be picked up and learned by our adversaries. Ultimately, for Operations Security to work everyone must participate.  All hands must understand that they are accountable for adherence to OPSEC guidelines.  This must be a team effort.

Thank you for making OPSEC a priority and incorporating it into your daily battle rhythm.

United We Sail,

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command


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