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Three years ago, the U.S. Army instituted stringent new regulations for online communications to prevent violations of operations security (OPSEC). As the Army regulation explained, “the OPSEC process identifies the critical information of military plans, operations, and supporting activities and the indicators that can reveal it, and then develops measures to eliminate, reduce, or conceal those indicators.” Maintaining OPSEC has always been essential to winning wars and preventing unnecessary casualties.

From a military perspective the move seemed obvious—even overdue. Yet to my shock and dismay , many of the smartest conservative bloggers (including Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and Ed Morrissey) criticized the policy. They appeared willing to overlook or downplay the danger to security in order to defend the role of the milblogger as a counter to the mainstream media’s coverage of the war.

Yet the danger of loose-lipped troops in the age of social media is real and pervasive. A prime example from Israel shows why such restrictions are especially needed in the age of social media:

The Israel Defense Forces called off a raid in Palestinian territory after a soldier posted details, including the time and place, on the social networking website Facebook, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.

The soldier - since relieved of combat duty - described in a status update how his unit planned a “clean-up” arrest raid in a West Bank area, Army Radio said.

“On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home,” the soldier wrote on his Facebook page, refering to a West Bank village near Ramallah.

The soldier also disclosed the name of the combat unit, the place of the operation and the time it will take place. Facebook friends then reported him to military authoritie

The issue doesn’t get much attention anymore but in the threat is greater than ever. The proliferation of social media in a time when we are fighting two wars should lead us to reflect on the damage that can be done by young servicemembers who are used to updating their every move on Facebook and Twitter.

In WWII, Japan and Germany had to expend a considerable amount of effort and personnel to breach OPSEC. Now, any terrorist who can read English and has an internet connection can set up his own mini-intelligence gathering agency.

(Via: Foreign Policy )

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