We write a lot of stories here on SOFREP that cause some people to complain loudly when they suspect that we’re divulging some kind of ‘classified’ info. Seems like we scare the shit out of people just about every week.
Let’s take a look at a few of our posts on OPSEC just to clarify our position. We’ll call it, “OPSEC The SOFREP Way.”
The first is Jack Murphy’s Intelligence Support Activity, JSOC’s Most Secretive Unit, where he writes, “Today I want to draw your attention to a white paper titled Truth Conquers All Chains: The U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity, 1981-1989 by Jeffrey T. Richelson. This unit is so secretive that I don’t comment on it regarding my personal experiences, but I will point you guys towards some open source information.”
Jack then posts A Critical Look at The Command by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, stating, “At SOFREP we make a concerted effort to get the best and most accurate information about the Special Operations community to our readers. Careful considerations are given to Operational Security as we have no interest in compromising operations or endangering soldier’s lives, so balancing these two can be tricky at times… This critique is intended as professional rather than personal criticism, but it is needed criticism. Because of OPSEC, not every incorrect statement made in The Command can be corrected.”
Brandon follows that with Are Politicians Putting Warfighters Lives At Risk? OPSEC Says Yes. Check the video – it’s worth the time to watch it.
In Brandon’s post SOCOM Says Author of “No Easy Day” Cleared Hot, he looks at the publishing process behind No Easy Day, and concludes that “Our opinion is that the publisher at Penguin clearly had no concern for National Security or Operational Security (OPSEC) with regards to ST6/DEVGRU, or they would have not published this book. Should publishers have more accountability? We say yes.”
Dalton Fury weighs in on the issue of SOF-Warriors-Turned-Authors in A Former Delta Force Commander Speaks Out About Tier One Authors. Regarding the book No Easy Day, he writes: Just as Admiral McRaven is smart enough to know what to share and what to protect, Owen is equally careful in No Easy Day not to allow innocuous facts to be compiled to potentially compromise sensitive national security information. Instead, he captures the essence of what it is like to live your life as a protector of the freedoms all of us hold so dear.
Jack Murphy doesn’t mince words in his post SEAL Team Six Throws OPSEC to the Wind, Next Time Use Delta Force or Rangers, a post which really pissed off a lot of SEALs: “With leaks coming from both the White House and within SEAL Team Six, the perception in the public and within the military is that the Navy’s most elite unit is now becoming worthless for covert operations. Maybe it is time for Admiral McRaven to be told to lock down his boys until they can be brought under control. I know a number of SEALs who epitomize the quiet professional moniker and those who are talking are in the minority. A few months ago, I would have said that the publicity surrounding the OBL raid is not SEAL Team Six’s fault but this is no longer the case…The publishing of a blow by blow account of the raid so soon after the event itself, with soldiers still in theater, still conducting dangerous operations, is simply too much. This book is a tipping point and will result in blowback that will give the entire Special Operations community two black eyes.”
Look at the post What Went Right In Benghazi, Libya: A Story Of American Heroism, written by Brandon Webb. His opinion on government communications with the American public? “I personally think that our government needs to start practicing straight talk. And this is across party lines, Americans deserve to hear truth, and not bullshit. You can protect programs, field operatives, and OPSEC while maintaining the truth. A simple, “the situation is complicated and we don’t have all the answers” will work. Try something different and you end up on wrong end of an American pitch fork.”
We look at The Grey Area: Why SEALs, & Other SOF Guys Secretly Consult, and how OPSEC is broken unwittingly: “Even worse when grey leads to black and guys slowly, sometimes unknowingly, violate the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) or Operational Security (OPSEC).
In the month prior to the last Presidential Election, Brandon cautioned our readers:
“Be careful what you read and watch, the political spin machine is in full effect. Ask yourself these two simple questions:
What’s the media outlet’s motive in all of this?
What is the journalist’s background and subject matter expertise?
Use this to guide you as you piece together the puzzle. I for one agree with Panetta on this one. There’s too much arm chair quarterbacking going on. I’m going to wait to pass judgement until the November dust settles.”
Our Team Room members read Jack’s excellent piece that described how OPSEC can hinder training and learning: “It is unfortunate that lessons learned do not migrate in a more fluid manner throughout SOF, but I assure you that, when I was in the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces, we were never sat down and briefed on these matters. I’m not saying every Ranger Battalion private should be read on to every classified JSOC operation, but there are still many opportunities to pass down lessons learned. It happens today only in an ad-hoc manner, or by reading books and articles that are open source.”
Lots written about OPSEC, but let’s turn now to someone who lives and breaths security every moment of every day, in Operations Security and Intelligence (OPSEC), who cautions against overly-aggressive OPSEC: So you say “But…but…but Coriolanus…how can someone be TOO concerned about security?” I will provide two good examples and give you a citation so you can look it up.”
Finally, Brandon sums things up nicely in his post Eric Boehlert Is The Coward: “And what about holding the U.S. media accountable? Who are the media groups that are throwing up the TMZ headlines like gossip girls and giving no consideration or regard for U.S. National Security? Reminds me of my favorite Don Henley song “Dirty Laundry.” The important point that the OPSEC video makes, is that it clearly displays the problem of politicians leaking national security Intel and its consequences, straight from the experts mouths.”
Brandon’s conclusion? “Politicians need to STFU.”