Saturday, March 16, 2013

3/16/2013 Naval Interest-Reposte /update

Naval Interest:

Please Turn Off Your Mobile Phones 
Public domain image by Darren Lewis 

Sailors, Marines, Guardians,                        


"Loose Lips Sink Ships", Loose I Phones Have Now Destroyed Aircraft

 We wish that all members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine were members of  the U.S.Naval Institute and avid readers of their monthly PROCEEDINGS. Unfortunately we are all too aware that this is not the case. Frequently the PROCEEDINGS carries maritime news of national consequence entirely missed by the national media. The May 2012 issue carried a story titled "Technology's Hidden Dangers" by frequent contributor Norman Friedman on page 162. In this article Mr. Friedman recounts an incident from about a year ago reported from Afghanistan. As reported in the article four new attack helicopters were delivered to a U.S. base, the location of which had apparently been unknown to the Taliban. Military personnel photographed the technologically advanced air craft and posted the pictures on the Internet. The air craft frames apparently were not "classified". A short time after the pictures were posted the Taliban destroyed the air craft in a mortar attack.

 Apparently the service members had used smart phones to take the pictures. Smart phones generally incorporate GPS receivers and they automatically tag their photos with GPS locations.  As veterans of active duty in the days before personal computers/ smart phones , we have a deep appreciation of the morale benefit to our troops of these devices. Military journals are full of stories where these personal devices have proven to be of benefit in emergency and even combat situations for our service members. We certainly don't want to see their use curtailed.  However all service members need to seriously consider the near complete lack of privacy on the Internet and curb their I phone and other Internet usage accordingly.

 As the case described in Last May's PROCEEDINGS  article illustrates, merely abstaining from photographing or discussing classified information is not enough.  Communications security is vital in combat and law enforcement operations and there is a lot of unclassified, but none the less critical, information out there. We hope all of our naval interest readers who are in uniform, or accompanying those who are in uniform into the field or fleets, will consider the following suggestions:

 1. Never use your I phone in combat unless you are already under fire and for some reason it becomes your only way to call for back up.

2. Don't discuss ship movements, base locations, equipment arrivals' or anything else remotely thought to be "sensitive" even if not "classified" on any wireless medium except DOD provided 'secure sources' and then only if it is part of your job to do so. When in doubt consider the information "sensitive".

3. Buy a digital camera and restrict the building of your military career photo album to a camera only camera and avoid the use of your I phone camera under any sensitive circumstances.  Print your pictures and surface mail photos to family if your photos contain any on base, or on ship scenes unless those ship scenes are pretty old and can't give away the ship's position any longer (remember the automatic GPS tagging feature).  If you routinely used surface mail your pictures always would be a bit aged and it would be much harder for anyone to compromise any inadvertently sensitive information associated with them.

4. Always consider the Internet and all wireless means of communication as an "insecure" method of communications even if using an encrypted program. 

5. Commanding officers should consider designating a photographer for certain events that the troops would consider worthy of special remembrance but taking place where some sensitive information may be in view, and carefully review and time the release of these photos to the troops while prohibiting the use of private cameras in such areas.   

6. Personal communications security is every one's job, don't let it become no one's job. What is at stake is not only force security but the continued wide spread availability of modern personal communications technology to our deployed troops.  Commanding Officers, Executive Officers, Command Master Chiefs and Command Sargent Majors should take the lead in educating the crew and troops to the issue.  The continued availability of personal and instant communications with the family are a critical aspect of modern deployment.  But if the technology can not be controlled operational security will ultimately require restricted access.  

 As we examine the various threats to U.S. security around the world for our news service or in support of the essays of Namazu , or our daily posts we are perhaps more aware of the daily threat level than most Americans including some in uniform.  We see in the China Seas, The Korean Peninsula, and in the waters off Iran the daily potential for real war only one miscalculation away, with the real potential to break out over night. We see the non state organizations committed to destroy us through terrorism, but we also see at least three nuclear armed nation states becoming bolder and less respectful daily.  Every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine needs to remember that all of these potential enemies are gathering intelligence daily.  Some are very seriously planning an attack, they await only an opportunity where they see our weak point to attack.  U.S forces must protect our militarily useful information at all times, not all of it is classified.  We must develop a culture that is conservative of all militarily useful information regardless of classification.  That is a tall order in an open society with a free press that feels themselves licensed to publish any government "secret" they uncover by any means whatsoever. 

 Write real letters to Mom and Dad, Wife and Kids and send them out by surface mail if you want to get into any unclassified details about your deployment or daily work that might reveal any ship or other asset locations, or weaknesses or strengths of your unit, right down to any personality conflicts that you might be having.  When you visit a foreign port where liberty is granted take all the photos you want near the local land marks, your visit is no secret it was covered in the local media. These are the types of photos that you can send by I phone. But when you send these by I phone do it before your ship leaves port or at the next publicly announced port call, don't send them underway. These are just a few of our thoughts about denying the enemy useful information on a daily basis by all hands. We invite your comments and additional suggestions . The world is not getting any safer, and "loose lips" still "sink ships".

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