If you have any affiliation with the military, you may have heard about OPSEC, or Operational Security. This is usually the most relevant to friends and families of deployed service members, but it does stretch a bit more than people realize.
If you look it up, you’ll discover it’s technically against OPSEC to post when service members get paid. While I think this is more than a little silly considering you can google this information, there are other parts to it that are a lot more important. Like not mentioning troop movement or location or posting some information on social media (i.e. Facebook!). Posting immediately after he left that he’s on his way to wherever (we all have a nickname for it whether it’s the land of sand, sandbox, etc) is telling troop movement. They now know when to look for troops coming into the area. Same with homecoming dates. I know you want to shout them to the rooftops and tell everyone your man (woman, child, friend, etc) is coming home. Don’t do it until he’s in your arms. Telling a few people over the phone is cool, but try to keep that number down…and make sure they understand OPSEC!
How does this relate to photography? A lot of photographers, like myself, specialize in military homecomings. This means you are expected to keep us as up to date with homecoming information as you can so we can take every step necessary (and a few unnecessary ones) to make sure we are there for your special moment. Make sure your photographer is versed in OPSEC. I’ve seen unit and dates posted in groups when looking for a back up photographer; I’ve seen people announcing on their public pages “only XX days until this family is reunited!” while sharing a photo from a previous session with that family. While this is normally great marketing, the consequences can be a bit more severe than a Facebook warning. Units have been delayed coming home as late as the runway because command heard about Facebook statuses saying when the service members were expected in.
I’ve had the pleasure of sitting through OPSEC training about 6 or 7 times…not including the run down given at pre-deployment and return and reunion briefs.
The Doctor Seuss version is still my favorite! (Found online, author unknown).
I am Sam,
Sam I am.
Do you like OPSEC and ham?
I do not get it, Sam I am.
I do not get OPSEC and ham.
We must use it here and there,
We must use it everywhere.
You CAN share it in a car,
But you CANNOT in a bar.
You CANNOT share it in a text.
You CANNOT share it at the NEX.
You CAN say it in your house.
But should NOT tell a random spouse.
You CAN say it in the shower.
But do NOT go sharing at happy hour.
DON’T make the Ombudsman sweat.
DON’T post it on the internet.
You CANNOT share it in a tweet.
That would not be very sweet.
Beware of Facebook and Myspace too.
It’s tempting to let your feelings through.
You Cannot tell it to a friend.
NOT even at the very end.
It is a privilege to know a date.
DON’T tell ANYONE or they may be late!
Oh, I get it, Sam I am.
Now I get OPSEC and ham!
I will not tell anyone.
I will keep hushed until they’re done!
I will not tell him or her.
I will not tell my dog with fur.
I will not tell my child’s teacher.
I will not tell any creature.
Thank you, THANK YOU, Sam I am.
Thank you for clearing up OPSEC and Ham!!!