Saturday, January 22, 2005

You Have Some 'Splainin to Do Lucy!

22 January 2005

It's been quite some time since my last posted entry, so I'll try my best to explain why I took myself off the air for so long. Most of this stemmed from the Army and management taking a closer look at data leaving the sites here.

If you've been in the military, then you have a fairly good grasp of the term Operations Security. Operations Security (OPSEC) is the military's way of self-monitoring the data and voice exchanges going out of sites and areas on any of the posts, ships and bases worldwide. The idea here is that a lot of the outgoing calls and email may be leaking valuable information for the enemy to intercept, understand and predict our mission and strengths. In Iraq, this includes manpower strength, raid dates, resource availability and other vital mission-essential information.

Recent military monitoring of outgoing data and voice communications indicated that too much information may have been tipping off the insurgents, who by the way, are phenominally tech-savvy and who can use this information to their advantage. This may include manpower additions to units - even civilian support increases - which allow them to adjust their tactics and attacks as necessary. Even my mention in previous logs as to the location of incoming mortars could have been used to make necessary adjustments for more successful and accurate attacks in the future on our own locations.

The problem really comes about from us becoming too complacent about OPSEC. So now you have the full explanation of why I pulled down what was up. At this point and time, I should be able to repost everything as long as any previous content isn't compromising current conditions here or elsewhere in the theater.

Having been in Europe during the Cold War and at the peak of the Red Army Faction bombings, I think the military really drilled that into us. But most Americans are very relaxed about that type thing. In South America as in Europe, you just don't take pictures of any military things; even communications towers and government infastructure are off-limits. In my travels through Chile enroute to the Antarctic back in 1988, I had made a journal entry about an experience I had relating to that.

On our flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas, we had a stop-over in Puerto Montt. Some American gets off the plane and starts taking pictures of the Chilean Air Force jets on the runway. Innocent enough one would think, since they were probably old retired American military jets to start with. Next thing you know, the military police are arresting him for questioning and pulling open his camera to empty out the film. As it was in Europe, pictures of government infastructure, military assets and such are strictly verboten!

The lesson learned here is that we as Americans tend to take for granted our freedoms. We wander through our lives while Stateside not even thinking there are any threats or dangers. We then carry that attitude with us on our travels around the world, naively believing that everywhere is just like America. We think our ways, our freedoms and our passports are like credit cards - a readily accepted free ticket to exercise our free will whereever the airlines will take us.

Not so. No matter where we go in this world, we need to be concious and maintain a sensitivity of those whose feelings we might be trampling, whose laws we may be disobeying, understanding that our freedoms are not tranferable around the world. But we must also be vigilant in our travels. One day we will need to understand that not everyone cares for or are willing to accept the freedoms we want to deliver, no matter how pretty we think the wrapping paper and bow that it is wrapped in, is.
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