In the meantime, I got some requests to discuss OPSEC. OPSEC is a serious subject and it is thrown around a lot, sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly. So let us start with defining it. According to DoD Directive 5205.02 (DoD Operations Security (OPSEC) Program) OPSEC is:
E2.1.3. Operations Security (OPSEC). A process of identifying critical information and analyzing friendly actions attendant to military operations and other activities including:
E184.108.40.206. Identify those actions that can be observed by adversary intelligence systems.
E220.127.116.11. Determining indicators that hostile intelligence systems might obtain that could be interpreted or pieced together to derive critical intelligence in time to be useful to adversaries.
E18.104.22.168. Selecting and executing measures that eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level the vulnerabilities of friendly actions to adversary exploitation.
This is a DoD wide instruction, however, there are similar instructions for agencies outside the DoD including but not limited to: The Department of Commerce, CIA, and FBI.
Part of the aforementioned regulation requires that all commands develop an OPSEC program that requires the following:
5.1.4. Coordinate and deconflict OPSEC matters affecting more than one DoD Component and identify other U.S. Government department or agency policies that may adversely affect DoD OPSEC posture.
OPSEC and Intelligence: What is the difference?
Intelligence covers a specific number of subjects as defined in Executive Order 13526, specifically:
(a) military plans, weapons systems, or operations;
(b) foreign government information;
(c) intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology;
(d) foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources;
(e) scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;
(f) United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
(g) vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to the national security; or
(h) the development, production, or use of weapons of mass destruction.
Anything not covered by these topics fits under OPSEC auspices. Both have a penalty associated with them if violated, but I assure you that disclosing classified information is significantly greater than an OPSEC violation. It is a violation of United States Title Code, a fancy way of saying you broke the law. Both will get people killed, but unauthorized disclosure of classified information has tendency to get a LOT of people killed. The only three levels of classification within the US government are:
(1) “Top Secret” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
(2) “Secret” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
(3) “Confidential” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
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