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OP what?!?


Number one rule of military life is, don’t talk about military life.

Just kidding. I’m here to talk ALL things ML. But there ARE some things that should not be shared publicly.

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘loose lips sink ships’? It first popped up on US propaganda posters during World War II to warn citizens careless talk could get allied troops killed. And it doesn’t take much. One person mentions a date, someone else says a time and a third person unwittingly provides the location, and suddenly the wrong people have the perfect target.

Today this is still very much a serious matter. And, unlike the 1940s, the internet has made it so much easier to gather those little puzzle pieces of information. It is all so confusing, especially when you are new to Military Life. So how do you know what you can share with your family or workmates? What you can post online?


The answer is OPSEC.


Most people in the defence community use OPSEC as an umbrella term to refer to control of information to protect our Military Members. OPSEC is short for operations security and is about keeping information out of enemies’ hands by protecting individual pieces of data such as when personnel are going flying into a country or how many troops are heading out on a patrol.

But, despite the importance of OPSEC, there are no ‘Welcome to the World of OPSEC’ pamphlets for new or even seasoned defence partners. Most spouses have learnt what they can and can’t share through a combination of common sense, info from the serving member and advice from fellow spouses….. it is all a little haphazard.

Luckily for you, you have me. So here is your OPSEC 101.


Don’t leave data crumbs

Information can be overheard or intercepted in person, online or during a phone conversation. We need to be aware of OPSEC at all times even when talking to our deployed partner, chatting with fellow spouses in a “private” Facebook group, emailing family or catching up with friends in a bar. And information isn’t just conveyed through words. It could be through a video, a photo or even a public countdown to your partner’s return.


Probe your partner

Quiz your spouse about OPSEC. They should be the best person to explain it as it relates to their job. And keep this conversation going throughout their career, especially before deployments. Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand what you can and can’t say or how OPSEC works. Remember you are NOT the Military Member, you don’t live and breathe the rules and regulations, the lingo, the can’s and cant’s. If you need it explained a few times in real people aka civilian speak than your Military Member will just have to suck it up and explain away.


Zip your lips, freeze your fingertips

Do NOT share information about military operations and the movements of Australian defence members that could put them in danger. This includes – but certainly not limited to – sharing deployment details, flight information, ship movements, the number of troops in a location, and the units, squadrons, aircraft or ships involved in an operation.
Examples – When on the phone to your Navy spouse, don’t ask where their ship will be in three days’ time. Don’t post on Facebook that your person is flying out of Iraq in three days’ time. You feeling me? It is ok to post or talk about being apart or missing each other or military life in general just don’t give away any of the finer details.


Keep your private bits private

Be careful about sharing identifying personal information in relation to you, your partner and your family. This could be your address, where you work, where your children go to school or the cars you drive. And, on a personal safety note, don’t advertise when your partner will be away or how long they will be gone for.


Don’t expose yourself online

Next, take a look at your online presence. Make sure your security and privacy settings are as tight as they can be. Consider turning off geotagging as it pinpoints your location in photos and social media posts. Think about where you post your defence links, pictures of your defence person in uniform or information about their job. And remember you never really know who you are talking to online, even in closed or private groups.


Finally, if in doubt, don’t share.


ML Pro Tip: Consider the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of a military operation. And then try to ensure you do NOT share that information.