When military friendships
Bind us together,
That bond can never be broken.

In times of deployments, confusion, or loneliness,
We are here to listen to one another.
In times of sadness, depression, or loss, 
We are here to console one another. 
Even when angry, discouraged, or overwhelmed, 
We will talk and share
We will love and listen.
For we understand, we have been there.

We may be separated by miles, ages, or wars,
We may be separated by beliefs, politics, or understandings,  
But we are never separated in heart or in spirit.
Military Friends are never too busy,
Never too tied,
Never too confused,
Never too far away,
Never too overwhelmed,
To listen and care.
We are here for one another
Pick up the phone,
We walk at one anothers side...
Military Friendships,
They make us Family,
Keep us Sane,
Bind us forever.
Rev. Lin McGee
Founder, Prescious Stars © Copyright   2/11/2008







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Attention  Please
When speaking with one another in our chat group ~ or to others we meet along the way ~ we must always keep in mind how important it is to NEVER give out any sensitive information about our Armed Forces!!!

Our military requests and expects that the members of our Armed Forces and all those associated with them shall at all times practice the basics of OPSEC in relation to military personnel, military information, and military operations.

It is imperative that we practice excellent OPSEC skills to protect this country and the lives of those we love!

Please NEVER post or discuss:

  • Official / Classified information
  • Unclassified information which directly pertains to classified operations.
  • Unclassified information that contains sensitive information concerning troops and their missions.
  • Sensitive personal information about members of the Armed Forces such as their social security number, home address, phone number, specific assigned home base location, etc.
  • The names of any members of the Armed Forces in relation to any movements, missions, operations, or assignments.
  • Operational information about members of the Armed Forces such as present or future assignments, particular military gear or equipment, specific operational base locations, dates of travel, dates of assignments and return home dates.
  • Readiness issues or numerical issues pertaining to Armed Forces assignments. 
  • Lists of military personnel assigned to a combat unit or serving elsewhere overseas.
  • Post pictures that reveal sensitive information concerning a member of the Armed Forces (watch what shows in picture backgrounds and on uniforms).

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Please, I also ask that you:

  • Do not speak negitively or spread rumors about current military operations or members of the Armed Forces.
  • Do not discourage or disrespect members of this or other military and/or veteran support groups.
  • Do not assume that the enemy is not watching us and that they are looking for information that we might let slip.
  • Stay safe!  


Whether classified or non classified information, we do not want to place our Armed Forces in harms way!  We do not want to sabotage their missions!  We do not want our posted material or casual conversations to be exploited and used against our country and our troops!




Defend America - An Operational Security (OPSEC) Primer




An Operational Security (OPSEC) Primer

By the U.S. Department of Energy

"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."

— George Washington, known OPSEC practitioner

What is Operational Security (OPSEC)?

The Intelligence Puzzle

Intelligence collection and analysis is very much like assembling a picture puzzle. Intelligence collectors are fully aware of the importance of obtaining small bits of information (or "pieces" of a puzzle) from many sources and assembling them to form the overall picture.

Intelligence collectors use numerous methods and sources to develop pieces of the intelligence puzzle . . .their collection methods range from sophisticated surveillance using highly technical electronic methods to simple visual observation of activities (these activities are referred to as "indicators").

Information may be collected by monitoring radio and telephone conversations, analyzing telephone directories, financial or purchasing documents, position or "job" announcements, travel documents, blueprints or drawings, distribution lists, shipping and receiving documents, even personal information or items found in the unclassified trash.

The Premise of OPSEC

The premise of OPSEC is that the accumulation of one or more elements of sensitive/unclassified information or data could damage national security by revealing classified information.

The Goal of OPSEC

The goal of OPSEC, as a "countermeasures" program, is to deny an adversary pieces of the intelligence puzzle.


There is nothing new about the principles underlying OPSEC. In fact, we can trace OPSEC practices back to the colonial days and the Revolutionary War. George Washington, our first president, was a known OPSEC practitioner. General Washington 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."

However, OPSEC, as a methodology, originated during the Vietnam conflict when a small group of individuals were assigned the mission of finding out how the enemy was obtaining advance information on certain combat operations in Southeast Asia. This team was established by the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, and given the code name "PURPLE DRAGON."

It became apparent to the team that although traditional security and intelligence countermeasures programs existed, reliance solely upon them was insufficient to deny critical information to the enemy--especially information and indicators relating to intentions and capabilities. The group conceived and developed the methodology of analyzing U.S. operations from an adversarial viewpoint to find out how the information was obtained.

The team then recommended corrective actions to local commanders. They were successful in what they did, and to name what they had done, they coined the term "operations security."

OPSEC and Government Activities

Over the years it became increasingly apparent that OPSEC had uses in virtually every government program that needed to protect information to ensure program effectiveness. OPSEC professionals modified and improved techniques based on experience gained with many different organizations and in areas far afield from military combat operations.
Today, OPSEC is as equally applicable to an administrative or research and development activity as it is to a combat operation. If OPSEC is not integrated into sensitive and classified activities, chances are that our adversaries will acquire significant information about our capabilities and limitations.
It probably would have been difficult for the "Purple Dragon" team to foresee that, 20 years later, the methodology they developed would become a national program.


You have probably been practicing OPSEC in your personal life without knowing it! When you are getting ready to go on a trip have you ever:

Stopped the delivery of the newspaper so that they would not pile up outside and send a signal that you are not home?

Asked your neighbor to pick up your mail so the mailbox would not fill up, also indicating that you are away?

Connected your porch lights and inside lights to a timer so they would go on at preset times to make it look like someone is home?

Left a vehicle parked in the driveway?

Connected a radio to a timer so that it comes on at various times to make it sound like that someone is inside?

Well, guess what you did? You practiced OPSEC!

The critical information here is obvious - we do not want anyone to know the house is unoccupied. None of the actions (countermeasures) listed above directly conceal the fact that your residence is unoccupied. A newspaper on the lawn or driveway does not necessarily mean no one is at home. Newspapers in the yard or driveway are only an indicator to the adversary.



That indicator, combined with other indicators, (no internal lights at night, mail stuffed in the mailbox, etc.) will provide the adversary with the information needed to reach a conclusion with an acceptable level of confidence. In this case, the more indicators that the adversary is able to observe, the greater the level of confidence in his/her conclusion. When you eliminate these indicators, you have a much better chance of ensuring that your home is not burglarized while you are away.

The same holds true at your place of work. We must protect our critical information and eliminate indicators available to the adversary.


A World War II-era poster warning against "loose lips" carries a message that is just as relevant today


NSDD 298 formalized OPSEC and described it as a five-step process:

  • Identification of the critical information to be protected
  • Analysis of the threats
  • Analysis of the vulnerabilities
  • Assessment of the risks
  • Application of the countermeasures

Identification of Critical Information

Basic to the OPSEC process is determining what information, if available to one or more adversaries, would harm an organization's ability to effectively carry out the operation or activity. This critical information constitutes the "core secrets" of the organization, i.e., the few nuggets of information that are central to the organization's mission or the specific activity. Critical information usually is, or should be, classified or least protected as sensitive unclassified information.

Analysis of Threats

Knowing who the adversaries are and what information they require to meet their objectives is essential in determining what information is truly critical to an organization's mission effectiveness. In any given situation, there is likely to be more than one adversary and each may be interested in different types of information. The adversary's ability to collect, process, analyze, and use information, i.e., the threat, must also be determined.

Analysis of the Vulnerabilities

Determining the organization's vulnerabilities involves systems analysis of how the operation or activity is actually conducted by the organization. The organization and the activity must be viewed as the adversaries will view it, thereby providing the basis for understanding how the organization really operates and what are the true, rather than the hypothetical, vulnerabilities.

Assessment of Risks

Vulnerabilities and specific threats must be matched. Where the vulnerabilities are great and the adversary threat is evident, the risk of adversary exploitation is expected. Therefore, a high priority for protection needs to be assigned and corrective action taken. Where the vulnerability is slight and the adversary has a marginal collection capability, the priority should be low.

Application of the Countermeasures

Countermeasures need to be developed that eliminate the vulnerabilities, threats, or utility of the information to the adversaries. The possible countermeasures should include alternatives that may vary in effectiveness, feasibility, and cost. Countermeasures may include anything that is likely to work in a particular situation. The decision of whether to implement countermeasures must be based on cost/benefit analysis and an evaluation of the overall program objectives.


The First Law of OPSEC

If you don't know the threat, how do you know what to protect? Although specific threats may vary from site to site or program to program. Employees must be aware of the actual and postulated threats. In any given situation, there is likely to be more than one adversary, although each may be interested in different information.

The Second Law of OPSEC

If you don't know what to protect, how do you know you are protecting it? The "what" is the critical and sensitive, or target, information that adversaries require to meet their objectives.

The Third Law of OPSEC

If you are not protecting it (the critical and sensitive information), the adversary wins! OPSEC vulnerability assessments, (referred to as "OPSEC assessments" - OA's - or sometimes as "Surveys") are conducted to determine whether or not critical information is vulnerable to exploitation. An OA is a critical analysis of "what we do" and "how we do it" from the perspective of an adversary. Internal procedures and information sources are also reviewed to determine whether there is an inadvertent release of sensitive information







The Interagency OPSEC Support Staff








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  1. In August of 2010, Adam Savage, of "MythBusters", took a photo of his vehicle using his smartphone.  He then posted the photo to his Twitter account including the phrase "off to work".
  2. Since the photo was taken by his smartphone, the image contained metadata reveling the exact geographical location the photo was taken.
  3. So by simply taking and posting a photo, Savage revealed the exact location of his home, the vehicle he drives and the time he leaves for work.

Read the full story here:

The following was published in Wired Magazine in 2009

"I ran a little experiment.  On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone.  Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map.  At home I searched the Flickr map, and score -- a shot from today.  I clicked through to the user's photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier.  After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location.  Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior -- a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room.  Now I know where she lives."

Read Full Story Here: 

  • As the stories above indicate, privacy and security aren't what they used to be.  With advancements in technology, enhanced GPS capabilities and smartphones with built in GPS, managing privacy and security is a full time job.
  • The Army is always working to protect itself against security breaches, but with new technologies come new risks.  Today, more than ever, it is vitally important that Army leaders, Soldiers and Army civilians understand what kind of data they are broadcasting and what they can do to protect themselves and their families.


  • Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification to photographs, video, websites and SMS messages.  It is the equivalent of adding a 10 digit grid coordinate to everything you post on the Internet.
  • Geotags are automatically embedded in pictures taken with smartphones.  Many people are unaware of the fact that the photos they take with their smartphones and load to the Internet have been geotagged.
  • Photos posted to photo sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa can also be tagged with location, but it is not an automatic function.


  • Photos have used geotagging for quite some time.  Certain formats like the JPEG format allow for geographical information to be embedded within the image and then read by picture viewers.  This shows the exact location where a picture was taken.
  • Most modern digital cameras do not automatically add geolocation metadata to pictures, but that is not always true.  Camera owners should study their camera's manual and understand how to turn off GPS functions.
  • On photo sharing sites, people can tag a location on their photos, even if their camera does not have a GPS function.  A simple search for "Afghanistan" on Flickr reveals thousands of location tagged photographs that have been uploaded.


  • Tagging photos with an exact location on the Internet allows random people to track an individuals location and correlate it with other information.
  • Soldiers deploy to areas all over the world.  Some locations are public, others are classified.  Soldiers should not tag their uploaded photos with a location.  Publishing photos of classified locations can be detrimental to mission success, and such actions are in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

LOCATION BASED SOCIAL NETWORKING APPLICATIONS -- Foursquare, Facebook, and Other Applications


  • Location based social networking is quickly growing in popularity.  A variety of applications are capitalizing on users' desire to broadcast their geographic location.
  • Most location based social networking applications focus on "checking in" at various locations to earn points, badges, discounts and other geo-related awards.
  • The increased popularity of these applications is changing the way we as a digital culture view security and privacy on an individual level.  These changes in perception are also creating OPSEC concerns on an Army level.


  • Foursquare is a location based social networking website for mobile devices.  Users 'check-in" at various places using a mobile website.  They are then awarded points and sometimes "badges".
  • Users of foursquare use the service to share their location with friends, meet new people and get coupons.  Users can also connect and publish their "chackins" to Facebook and Twitter.  If someone is not a friend on foursquare they can still track your whereabouts through Facebook.
  • Foursquare has over 4 million users.
  • Foursquare currently has iPhone, Android, webOS, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry applications.


  • Facebook's "Places" is similar to Foursquare in that it gives and individuals location when the users posts information using a mobile application.
  • This feature is available by using the Facebook application for iPhone, and Android.
  • This function is automatically active on all Facebook accounts until disabled.


  • Gowalla is another location based social networking application that functions much like Foursquare and Facebook Places.
  • Users can build a Passport which includes a collection of stamps from the places users have been.
  • Gowalla users can also post photos and submit tips at various locations.


  • SCVNGR is a location based social networking application that takes "checking in" a step further by allowing companies, educational institutions and organizations to build challenges inside the platform.
  • Users are encouraged to complete the challenges in order to earn points, badges or real life discounts and coupons.




  • Establishes patterns: Services like MotionX and other location based social networking applications allow strangers to track your movements every day.  If they watch someone long enough, they will know exactly when and where to find that person on any given day.
  • Exposes places of duty and home:  By tracking movements and aggregating information, strangers can determine where someone lives and works.
  • Identifies location of Army personnel:  If certain applications are used daily around Army populations, an enemy can determine potential targets.



  • The main function of location based social networking application is to broadcast a user's specific location.  Exposing Soldier and unit locations gives the enemy the upper hand,
  • One Soldier exposing his/her location can affect the entire mission.
  • Deployed Soldiers, or Soldiers conducting operation in classified areas should not use location based social networking services.  These services will bring the enemy right to the Army's doorstep.


PROTECTING ARMY SAFETY -- How to avoid giving away too much 


  • Many photosharing applications give the user the opportunity to geotag a photo.  In some cases, these geotags can add context to a photo, but when it comes to Army operations, geotagging operational photos is not allowed.
  • Users can delete geotagged photos, but once the information is out there, it's out of the user's hands.  Even if posted briefly, the enemy can capture vital information and record exact grid coordinates of troops populations. 

Social Media Fact:  Something as simple as loading a picture of your bunk in Afghanistan to Flickr, then geotagging it, can bring a motar right into your area of operation. 



  • One of the simplest ways to avoid displaying too much information is to disable the geotagging function on smartphones.
  • Since smartphones automatically display geographical information, it takes a little bit more effort on the user's part to protect their privacy.
  • It's important that all users understand their specific systems and make efforts to turn off their phone's geotagging function.



    1. Geotagging photos and using location-based social networking applications is growing in popularity, but in certain situations, exposing specific geographical location can be devastating to Army operations.


    2. Soldiers should never tag photos with geographical location when loading to photo sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa.


    3. Soldiers should not use location-based social networking applications when deployed, at training or while on duty at locations where presenting exact grid coordinates could damage Army operations.

    4. It is advised that while Soldiers are engaged in Army operations, they should turn off the GPS function of their smartphones. Failure to do so could result in damage to the mission and even put families at risk.


    5. Users deciding to utilize location-based social networking sites should be aware of the default settings for the services and devises they use. It is recommend that the users customize settings to be mindful of OPSEC and success of Army operations.





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Net Threats: Knowing the dos and don'ts of posting on social media

Apr 22, 2011

By Mindy Campbell (IMCOM)

BAMBERG, Germany, April 22, 2011 -- During World War II, the U.S. government adopted the slogan "loose lips might sink ships" to warn people to be careful when talking in public. Started in 1942 by the U.S. Office of War Information, the "loose lips" slogan was coined to help the public understand that casual conversations about sensitive information could tip off enemies.

Almost 70 years later, the same slogan could be used in relation to today's tweets, posts and published photos in the online world of social media. With the proliferation of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, the world has turned into a global network of connections and open source information.

Seemingly, innocent comments or posts could be used by terrorists and media organizations to negatively affect the military. Whether you are a Soldier, spouse or relative, community members need to be aware that what they post, however innocent, can have ramifications.


Social media sites are great, especially for military families. They allow Soldiers and their families, who may move many times throughout a career, to stay connected with friends and family worldwide by allowing us to share our thoughts, photos and events throughout deployments. Even people's daily life and military experience is shared for all the world to see. But that doesn't mean that anything goes.

"Social media provides the opportunity for Soldiers to speak freely about what they're up to or what their interests are," according to the U.S. Army Social Media Handbook. "However, Soldiers are subject to (Uniform Code of Military Justice) even when off duty, so talking negatively about supervisors, or releasing sensitive information is punishable under the UCMJ."

Spouses and family members, while not subject to UCMJ, also need to be careful what they post.

"Sharing what seems to be even trivial information online can be dangerous to loved ones and the fellow Soldiers in the unit - and may even get them killed," the handbook said. "America's enemies scour blogs, forums, chat rooms and personal websites to piece together information that can be used to harm the United States and its Soldiers."

Many people think that if it's unclassified information, it's safe to post, said Tonya Heinbaugh, U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg security officer. However, it's those small pieces of information that could be the most harmful.

"I don't think spouses and sometimes, even Soldiers, realize how great a threat it is," Heinbaugh said. "They only need bits and pieces of information."

In fact, it's unclassified information that can be the most harmful. According to the "Manchester Papers," an Al-Qaeda terrorist training manual found in England in 2000, more than 80 percent of all the information the terrorist group received was through unclassified material, Heinbaugh said.

That was even before social media sites took off, she said. So that number has probably dramatically increased.

"Think what they are collecting now," she said. "We give them all the information they need."

Those small bits of information can be added to other items you have already posted or will post in the future. For example, you generalize and say that your husband has deployed to Afghanistan. While looking through your photos on Facebook, someone might be able to see the unit patch on your husband's Army Combat Uniform or notice you are a "fan" of a specific unit's Family Readiness Group.

Those little pieces of information can be put together to give the enemy a larger picture.

"Even small pieces of information can do harm when they pair it with other information," Heinbaugh said.

For instance, when a group of 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team was redeploying back to Bamberg this fall, one careless post from a spouse on Facebook naming the time of the return, caused the entire flight to be delayed due to operational security concerns, said Heinbaugh.

"Our adversaries are trolling social networks, blogs and forums, trying to find sensitive information they can use about our military goals and objectives," wrote former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston in the social media handbook. "Therefore, it is imperative that all Soldiers and family members understand the importance of practicing good operations security measures."

According to "Killing with Keyboards," an operational security training slideshow, anyone can be a target.

However, some community members may think that enemies wouldn't read their profile or comments because they aren't anyone special or important.

"That may be true for now, but you never know when one online posting will bring you to their attention," the training states.

Others might say that they don't have any enemies.

The information can be used by not just terrorists but by former girlfriends, boyfriends of divorced spouses, the report states. Angry neighbors, disgruntled co-workers and even identity thieves could use the information you posted.

How to avoid revealing too much

If information on social media sites is being used by the enemy, is the answer to stay off the internet highway? Realistically, the answer is no. Social media sites are here to stay and are becoming an even more important tool in communication in modern technology. However, you can take some precautions to help keep both you and your loved ones safe.

"The adversary -- Al Qaeda and domestic terrorists and criminals for instance - have made it clear they are looking. When using social media, avoid mentioning rank, unit locations, deployment dates, names, or equipment specifications and capabilities," the social media handbook said.

Don't talk about unit morale, said Heinbaugh, who said that things such as bad equipment or not enough equipment, bad leadership and other complaints can be used by the enemy.

And, in fact, it's not just social media sites. Commenting on newspaper articles, blogs or other public forums can also give away more information than you intend.

For example, Heinbaugh said that a recent article about a local commander in the "Stars and Stripes" caused many people within the unit to comment on the newspaper's website. These comments exposed a low morale and even possibly leadership problems within the unit. All this information can be used by the enemy.

"If they know you are upset, they could target you," she said. "If a person is upset, they may vent or get emotional and could reveal more things than they should."

Take a close look at all privacy settings, especially on Facebook. Heinbaugh recommends checking out your setting at least once a month. Often, the website administrators will change or add security features without letting the customers know. She also recommends changing your privacy settings to be "friends only."

Talk to members of your extended family and friends about what they can post. How well do you know your "friends" on Facebook? If you have several hundred "friends" chances are you don't know all of them that well. In addition, it's easy to fake an account, Heinbaugh said.

"What you post to friends is not the same thing you would post to someone who is just an acquaintance," Heinbaugh said.

Do not reveal sensitive information about yourself such as schedules and event locations, the social media handbook states. Ask, "What could the wrong person do with this information?" and "Could it compromise my safety or that of my family or my unit?"

Look at photos, as well as what you post. Geotagging is a feature that reveals your location to other people within your network, the social media handbook states. Consider turning off the GPS function of your smart phone. In the same way, videos can be damaging as well. Make sure the videos don't give away sensitive information.

If damaging information has already been posted, that's not an excuse to post sensitive information. Some spouses, Heinbaugh said, have the attitude that since Soldiers post things that it's fine for spouses to post information.

"That's not an excuse to keep doing it," she said. "Two wrongs don't make a right. You can't control anyone but yourself."

If you see information posted you think is inappropriate, contact the site administrator, she said. The administrator can delete the comment and send the person a personal message explaining the reason for the deletion. If you reply in the comment section that the information is a violation of operation security that just waves a red flag to others about the information. The more you are aware, the better protected you are, Heinbaugh said.

"These are not personal forums," Heinbaugh said. "They are public forums. In a technology world, not much is private anymore."

To read more about the U.S. Army's social media regulations, log onto to read "Killing with Keyboards" log on to

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