Operational Security

Getting permission from the Va. National Guard to write this blog has taken a long time, with weeks turning into months. I want to give some insight on what I will and or will not discuss, and why.

I won't be able to say until at least October, where I'll eventually be stationed. Not even what country. Otherwise, I'd be violating operational security (OPSEC).

What I can say about my whereabouts is we will report to our home station in Richmond, Va. in October. The unit is activated and will move to Ft. Dix, N.J. I can also say that we are activating in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

A few weeks ago, a prime example of what not to do surfaced. The Army punished Specialist Leonard Clark for disclosing tactical information throughout his blog. He lost a pay grade, just under $2,000 in penalties, and received extra duty, which will commence once his deployment is over.

Here is a copy of the policy letter he violated. Download Policy#9 Multi-National Corps-Iraq

OPSEC is not expressly defined, but when soldiers start talking about tactics, troop strengths, locations of operations, and equipment capabilities, we cannot expect the Department of Defense to sit back and watch. Releasing this type of information is what gets people killed.

I think I'll be able to find a happy middle ground where I can communicate the experiences of 2/224th AVN without violating OPSEC considerations.

Most likely there will be some things I'd like to write about, which I won't be able to discuss, and I hope you will be okay with this. At the same time I want to be clear, this publication is not censored by the military.

My chain of command is supportive of this blog and have said it is something I should do. Should they tell me to stop writing, I'll have to stop. If they propose to censor what I write, I'll choose to stop.

By Bert Stover |  September 7, 2005; 5:17 AM ET  | Category:  Chain of Command
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"Operation Iraqi Freedom"? What freedom? Those characters aren't interested in creating a democracy. Their first attempt at drafting a constitution resulted in a hodgepodge document which institutes Islam as the official state religion, does not guarantee free expression for religious minorities, allows the Islamic law known as "shariah" to trump civil law, makes no attempt to ensure equal rights for women, and gives no guarantees to a free media or the right to free assembly. The lack of Iraqi freedom extends beyond their borders -- how about talking of the Iraqi parliamentarian who was jailed because he met with an Israeli counterpart in a global counterrorism forum in Europe? And quite frankly, the U.S. government isn't all that interested in encouraging a Western-style democracy. Let's not forget it was Paul Bremer who sparked the Fallujah uprising when he illegally ordered the shutdown of a newspaper that dared to criticize the U.S. occupation. But you need not worry about discussing "tactics, troop strengths, locations of operations, and equipment capabilities" -- this is already common knowledge to anyone who is even vaguely paying attention to the news from Iraq. With tactics such as occupying a country without being able to speak the local language, in having too few soldiers occupying the country because no sane Western government wants to lend troops to aid in the occupation, to the building of U.S. air bases in Iraq despite White House assurances the U.S. will eventually go away from Iraq (and, yes, people know where these air bases are) and in having Rumsfeld acknowledge the lack of adequate protective armor -- well, you don't have to worry about telling us classified information because it is not secret. Of course, if you were genuinely interested in preserving freedom, how about asking for a transfer to the VA National Guard effort in Louisiana and Mississippi? Maybe you should be saving Americans first and worry about the mullahs later?

Posted by: E. Etage | September 7, 2005 09:22 AM

E Etage, get yer own stinkin' blog.

Keep it real, Chief.

Posted by: Hooah | September 7, 2005 03:19 PM

Bert,

How about letting us know about the sights and sounds out there. Things like your opinion of the food (hot rats); living arrangements; what you do for R+R (well, what's okay for print). ;)

Am a fan of William T. Grant's "Wings of Eagles" book (one of the first W-4s in the Army) who served in Vietnam. He did a very good job at telling what it was like as a pilot out there.

BTW, let's also see a pic of your watch, too (a joke about warrant officers with their big chrono watches). ;)

SandyK
Semper Fi

Posted by: SandyK | September 7, 2005 04:59 PM

Hi Bert,

Keep safe out there...

For us citizens who don't know much about the military, can you explain to us what a warrant officer is? Or what different rankings, roles, or other soldier classifications mean? And how they support the team and the mission? Or does that get into violating OPSEC?

God bless and good luck!

Posted by: T-man | September 8, 2005 11:37 AM

Hey Bert,

Good luck with your deployment. My son just returned from his fifth deployment (OPSEC didn't let him tell me much either!) I look forward to reading your blogs; can you describe the feelings of the people you encounter? Not the wheres and who's, not any specific names, just how are you and your buddies treated, what your day is like, how you feel about your role in the Army, etc. I know some people hate soldiers and their commanders, but there are a majority of us who wish you well and respect what you do. Thank you for taking the time to communicate with us; I find very little worth reading in most newspapers - but your blog will be checked daily! Keep safe!

Posted by: ArmyMom | September 9, 2005 08:45 AM

Bert,

Keep yourself safe. Just remember, when and if you do take casualties, DO NOT lose your sense of humor. It will keep you going if you can learn to laugh at the insanity. Iraqis do not want Blockbusters or Starbucks, so no need to try and convince them that what they need is a society like ours. They play by a totally different set of rules in that part of the world. Rumor is fact. You will have to learn to deal with that. Do not make promises no matter how sure you are of things. If out on a mission and you do not see an Iraqis on the streets, get out of the AO!

If a car is on the side of the road and still has tires, but no driver in site, get ready for it to explode.

The insurgents are not stupid. They are watching you even when you seem safe and sound inside the wire.

Enjoy your two-week leave, but once it is over put it away.

Once last thing, say good-bye to the person you are. Once you return you will see he no longer exists. Take care.

Posted by: Hnorc | September 12, 2005 10:40 AM

Bert,
Be careful on the road. Ft. Dix is an interesting little place, I called McGuire the Air Force Base Dix is connected to home for 20 years. Enjoy the Pine Barrens if and when you can. Watch the roads NJ drivers are nuts. If you can catch a story or two on the NJ Devil it will give you something to read in your travels. God speed and good luck.

Posted by: MilitaryBrat | September 13, 2005 01:54 AM

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