National OPSEC Day

January 22, 2018. That’s the big day.

As the 30th anniversary of the day President Ronald Regan signed National Security Decision Directive Number 298 into being, that’s the day we can all celebrate National OPSEC Day. Or, at least, we would if there were such an anniversary. Well, okay, for the sake of argument I suppose any day that something significant happened would be followed annually by an anniversary. But I’m not talking about just any day- no sir and no ma’am. I’m talking about a commemorative anniversary. One that celebrates all that is encompassed by the signing of this important document.

After all, it was an important document that was signed! It formerly established a National OPSEC Program and kept the entire process from being a simple vietnam-era experiment. It brought OPSEC into other arenas, which have since been applied to the private sector, neighborhoods, military units, law enforcement, domestic violence shelters, and more. It’s also the day that the Interagency OPSEC Support Staff (IOSS) was created, all by one stroke of the pen.

So why not a National OPSEC Day?

Aside from our formal holidays, most “National Days” are there to commemorate some date, and also – perhaps more significantly- to raise awareness about a specific subject. A few examples include Family Literacy Day, America Recycles Day, World AIDS Day, Human Rights Day, National Day of Play. That’s a very, very, very small sample of our “National Days.”

Other topics are so important that they merit an entire month: National Autism Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, just to name a few. In fact, in the United States, each month represents multiple important causes- on average, 11 of them.

On the other end of the scale we have literally hundreds of other “National Days” that are just plain ridiculous: Run It Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day, Old Rock Day, National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day, Blame Someone Else Day, National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day. And those are all contained in January – and that isn’t even all of them.

With this in mind how hard could it be to create a National OPSEC Day? Actually, quite hard indeed. A truly “National” day is literally an act of Congress and takes a lot of work. OSPA’s already reached out to the white house to request such a proclamation, but having heard nothing back it’s uncertain if National OPSEC Day- the 30th anniversary of this important program- will every be formalized. Together, we may be able to make it happen- if not formally, at least a day that we can all remember what OPSEC has done for our nation and in our lives.

So mark it on your calendar now: January 22, 2018, the 30th anniversary of our National OPSEC Program and the birthday of the IOSS, is National OPSEC Day.

Do you want to help make this happen? Then make it happen! Share the idea. Contact your congressman. Tweet. Retweet. Share. Plan your own events. Make it happen!

OPSEC During a Zombie Outbreak

OPSEC applies everywhere, even during a zombie outbreak. The following guidelines just might help you to make it through!

OPSEC for humans

  • If the zombies were created by an evil genius, listen carefully when he captures you. He does not understand OPSEC, and will tell you the whole evil plan, including how to stop it. This will be important when you escape.
  • If anyone in your party has allergies, leave them behind! They will invariably sneeze at the worst time possible, revealing your otherwise perfect hiding spot.
  • Tie a string around your finger; write on your hand; magic marker on your forehead; whatever it takes to remember that if you see someone that you know to be dead, they’re probably a zombie. Don’t try to talk to them.
  • The government does not know how to disguise their operations. If you see a convoy of large, unmarked vehicles, leave the area immediately.
  • Try to remember a zombie’s signature, and don’t copy it. If you get drunk and stagger out into the street, you will be mistaken for a zombie and shot.
  • You can always tell who’s going to be zombie-fied next. It’s always right after they say, “Stay here, I’ll be right back”!
  • Apparently, all humans have failed to conduct open-source research. This is why they always say, “what are those things?”

    OPSEC for Zombies

  • Yes, brains are very tasty. No question about that. However, it is unwise to moan “Braaaaaaaains” as you chase after them. That just lets them know you’re coming
  • It’s not necessary to conduct any form of reconnaissance or observation. You will always manage to shuffle across their group no matter where they are hiding or run. In a stroke of genius rivaling any military maneuver, a massive army of zombies will often simultaneously converge on the exact spot that the hero’s vehicle has broken down.
  • There is a standard uniform for zombies. As soon as you are infected, you must wear torn, bloodstained clothes. This is regardless of what you wore before becoming a zombie.
  • Yes, brains are very tasty.
  • If possible, try to eat the quiet, smart guy that doesn’t do anything through the whole movie. At the end, he will be the one that figures out how to destroy you.
  • Try salting the brains before you eat them. Not so much an OPSEC tip, but that’s good eatin’.

The Zoo

A very small zoo was thrown into chaos when the star attraction- a gorilla named Chuck- unexpectedly died right before they opened for the day.

The owners were worried, because people came from all over just to see Chuck’s antics. Surely, the gorilla’s passing would spell the end of the beloved zoo.

But then, the owner had an idea. He called Jason, one of his employees, and offered him an extra $100 a day if he would wear a gorilla costume and pretend to be chuck- just until they could get a live replacement. Jason agreed, and minutes before opening he was suited up and ready in the enclosure.

Everyone loved Jason’s antics. The children clapped and laughed, and even the adults enjoyed watching the fake Chuck run around and beat his chest. Eventually, however, business started to die down. Chuck was still a popular attraction, but people could only watch an animal do the same tricks so many times. So Jason began changing things up. He would throw a ball out of the enclosure and wait for people to throw it back. He’d dance in a very gorilla-like way. But everyone got the biggest thrill when he would climb over the divider and hang over the lion’s pit. It was truly a death-defying spectacle.

One day, while Jason was hanging over the very hungry lion’s pit, the aging costume gave way and Jason fell hard onto the ground. The lion started circling menacingly, ready to pounce and tear the costumed man to bits.

“Help! Help!” Jason started shouting, scrambling madly to get up and out of the lion’s grasp.

“Quiet you, fool!” the lion whispered. “Are you trying to get us both fired?”

Sometimes, things aren’t what they appear. What we think is a friendly gorilla is a man in a costume. A dangerous lion is a friend. Appearances can be deceiving, so it’s important that we verify that what we’re seeing or hearing is correct.

Much like in this story, sometimes people don’t want you to know who they really are. The man with a clipboard that comes into your facility- are they really an inspector? The woman that shows up from IT saying she needs your computer for maintenance- did IT actually send anyone down?

Sometimes, it only takes a little bit of vigilance to see through someone’s disguise. And we should always be checking.

May the 4th be with you!

Today is May 4th- also known as Star Wars Day. Live long and prosper!

Kidding, kidding.

Whenever I watch the movie, I think about the hardest working person in the galaxy: the Empire’s OPSEC Manager. Probably some part-time Stormtrooper somewhere on Coruscant, who had to worry about military missions light years away. And to top it all off, that poor OPSEC manager is trying to keep information from a group that can literally read minds. Not an easy task.

After the battle of Endor, that person better have gotten a raise. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a military victory for the Empire, seeing as how the death star was destroyed and the elite ground forces were decimated by teddy bears, but that was hardly the OPSEC manager’s fault. From an OPSEC perspective, it was a resounding success.

There will be no spoiler alerts. The movie’s an American classic and it’s over three decades old. If you haven’t see it yet, you really shouldn’t be doing anything else today.

Although the location of the Death Star was known and an attack was expected, the Emperor had a secret: the death star was actually fully operational. His plan was to destroy the unprepared rebel force when they showed up to attack. And much of that fell on our poor OPSEC manager, who was tasked with making sure that secret plan remained a secret. Of the million or so people on the small moon space station, how many could have known that the station was operational? The crews that were on standby to fire it? The technicians that checked out the specs? Everybody with a window when it was tested and confirmed to be operational?

So next time you watch the series, give some thought to those hard working OPSEC managers out there in the far-away, long-ago galaxy. Whether you’re for the Empire or a rebel, you gotta admire their OPSEC game.

Remember: Loose lips destroy starships.