Awareness is key to successful Operations Security

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- As professional Airmen we all know that in modern warfare, overwhelming airpower is vitally important to successful military engagements. However, what we may not realize is that Operations Security awareness is just as crucial to ensuring the successful execution of all of our warfighting missions.

At Eielson, OPSEC awareness is built from the ground up. It starts with every Iceman taking an active role in their OPSEC training, while integrating the five steps of the OPSEC process -- identification of critical information, analysis of threats, vulnerabilities analysis, risk assessment, and application of appropriate countermeasures -- into their daily lives.

Through this conditioning, Airmen position themselves to control information and observable actions about our capabilities, limitations, and intentions to prevent or control exploitation of available information by an adversary. This is just as important now as it was in the time of the revolutionary war.

OPSEC is not a new program. Protecting critical information has been in place since the time of our first commander in chief. General George Washington's first experience with OPSEC -- a term not used at the time, but the same principles endure -- came at the age of 21 when he was a volunteer militia officer in the Colonial Army fighting under British General Edward Braddock during the Seven Year's War against the French.

Through an effective intelligence network, the French Army was able to ascertain British moves well in advance by capturing a mail shipment that contained innocuous letters from colonial soldiers to their combining that information into a cohesive intelligence product, the French were able to glean valuable information that led them to discover the British route of travel. The French Army then successfully used this information to ambush the combined British and Colonial Army on their first expedition.

In this attack, the combined British and Colonial forces lost 615 of their officers and 914 enlisted soldiers. In addition, General Braddock was mortally wounded and barely escaped with the aid of Washington.

After this enduring lesson, Washington was able to integrate early forms of OPSEC into his operations during and after the Revolutionary War. After the war he was quoted as saying "Even minutiae should have a place in our collection, for things of a seemingly trifling nature, when enjoined with others of a more serious cast, may lead to valuable conclusion."

It is clear that Washington understood the importance of safeguarding critical information ... now shouldn't you?