SPECWAR OperatorsThis morning I read a tweet from the Associated Press twitter account that said:

“BREAKING: US official: Navy SEAL team that rescued 2 Somalia hostages was the same that killed bin Laden. -BW”

My response to that was disbelief. Why does the general populous need to know the ‘who’ or ‘what’ behind clandestine operations? The answer is, they don’t.

Even the White House perpetuates this in their press release statement where Special Operations Forces’ success on the rescue is mentioned.

Unfortunately this administration has a tendency to release too many details about who was involved as was reported on CNN.

Does sharing this kind of detail really impact the news stories or is it just for entertainment? Are the SPECWAR operators technical experts in their field or contestants on a reality TV show? Perhaps that is a bit sarcastic but simply put, how does providing that information help the operators in those communities or the community as a whole? The answer to that question is that it doesn’t and could do quite the opposite…it can endanger them.

All of the units that make up the Special Operations Community exist under the cloak of secrecy. The environments they operate in, the tactics that they use, and the equipment that aids them all add to the ability remain undetected. Discussion about specific units involved in specific operations may be very interesting and entertaining but also can be used by adversaries as a means to study tactics, environments and equipment that those units use, in order to come up with counter strategy.

During World War II the saying was “Lose Lips Sink Ships”. Now those slogans have been updated to include social media terms.

Lose Tweets Sink Fleets

The Enemy is Listening

Facebook: Careless Updates Poster

Careless Updates Might Seal A Sailor's Fate

The other aspect that many don’t always consider, those highly trained operators have families and loved ones here in the U.S. Carelessly identifying them could put those civilians at risk as well. The Internet and Google searches aren’t exclusive to the United States. A lot of information can be collected and analyzed just from what we post carelessly online thinking ‘No one will notice.’

Here is a video from the Navy OPSEC Support Team from a couple years ago that is a tongue-in-cheek vignette talking about how easy it can be for our adversaries to gather intelligence.

Simply put, it’s easier than ever for the enemies of the United States and her allies to get information. It is foolish for our own people to make it even easier. The Freedom of Information Act wasn’t put in place to circumvent the need for OPSEC (Operational Security) and ensuring the safety of the men and women in uniform. There is no reason to give details about an operation of any of the clandestine forces (successful or unsuccessful) to the media.

Have some stories or some insight on this topic or have a differing view point? Speak up, I’d love to hear from you.

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