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OPSEC Broken: The Face-Palm Moment of the Month

Active Military
Active Military
October 20, 2023
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Somewhere in the White House public affairs department, at least one person is having a very bad day. From the public perception, they seemed to have posted a picture of some of America’s most elite warriors on social media, without blurring their faces. 

The picture was deleted a few hours later, but unfortunately the damage may have already been done.

Those who have worked in a special operations environment might say this has the potential to compromise ongoing clandestine operations, or even endanger the personal lives of these purported operators. Beyond that, it could potentially jeopardize any ongoing hostage rescue efforts. 

No one without a top level security clearance, and immediate knowledge of the situation, can speculate the full impact of this blunder, but it speaks to a much larger problem.

When politics mixes with military matters, the results can be… suboptimal. Especially when the desire for a photo-op supersedes an awareness regarding the gravity of a situation.

Maybe the social media team didn’t quite grasp why this was such a bad idea. Maybe there should not have been camera’s there to begin with? 

We know everyone makes mistakes, but hopefully this one doesn’t have any severe ramifications.

We put together a handy refresher below, that someone (not pointing any fingers north of Richmond) might benefit from reviewing.

What is OPSEC?

OPSEC, short for Operational Security, comprises a set of rules and guidelines designed to protect sensitive information related to military operations, servicemembers, and their families. Its primary goal is to prevent adversaries or individuals with malicious intent from gaining access to critical information that could jeopardize the safety and success of military missions.

Where is OPSEC Applied?

OPSEC is a concept that extends its influence to various aspects of military life, including:

  • Conversations: OPSEC applies to conversations within and outside the military community. Sensitive mission details and military operations should not be discussed openly.

  • Social Media: In today's digital age, social media platforms have become a significant area of concern. Posting specific information about military missions, ranks, or unit deployments can put servicemembers and their missions at risk.

  • Deployments: While discussing deployments among friends and family is natural, sharing deployment details, such as departure dates and times, should be avoided, even on private social media accounts.

  • Training: Information about unit training, including locations and times, is not to be shared on any form of social media.

  • Casualty Information: OPSEC dictates that casualty information should never be disclosed before an official release, as inaccurate information or notification processes may still be in progress.

Five Crucial OPSEC Rules:

1. Don't Share Details of a Mission: The cardinal rule of OPSEC is to refrain from sharing any detailed information about military missions or units on social media or in conversations. This prevents compromising the mission's success and the safety of service members.

2. Don't Mention Your Military Spouse's Specific Job Title: Avoid disclosing your spouse's rank or specific unit on social media, as doing so can potentially put your family and your spouse at risk.

3. Don't Post Location or Time of Unit Deployments: Sharing sensitive deployment details, such as departure dates and times, even on private social media accounts, can jeopardize the safety of service members and the mission.

4. Don't Post Details of Training: While unit training may seem less significant than deployments, revealing training locations and times on social media should be strictly avoided.

5. NEVER Post Casualty Information Before an Official Release: In the event of a casualty, exercise extreme discretion and avoid sharing any information until it has been officially released. This ensures accuracy and respects the notification process.


Operational Security (OPSEC) is a vital aspect of military life, extending its reach to conversations, social media, deployments, training, and sensitive information. By adhering to the OPSEC rules outlined in this article, you can play a crucial role in safeguarding our servicemembers and national security. Understanding and practicing OPSEC is not just a responsibility but a commitment to the safety and success of our military operations

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