The military command in charge of protecting the U.S. homeland has sent a message to troops, warning them to hide family information from terrorist groups that are trying to frighten them.
The memo warns against using “military slang” in public and decorating a home in military items — social conduct that might make troops a target for the Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIL and ISIS.
U.S. Northern Command sent the “official use only” message as a reaction to the Islamic State posting the names of 100 American service members as targets for attacks.
“These organizations are attempting to use our own personal information against us to create fear and anxiety among our ranks and within our families,” states the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times. “We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our fellow service members and their families. We must reduce our vulnerabilities through active and vigilant monitoring of the information provided via the Internet and social media sources.”
One of the steps being taken is to issue “media use smart cards which detail safe online practices,” according to the message sent this month from Northcom’s command center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to a long list of lower commands.
It is believed that the Islamic State, which has an active social media arm and computer-hacking division, gleaned the information on the 100 from publicly available sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Such profiles can then be Googled to obtain even more biographical data.
Among other Northcom recommended safeguards:
⦁ “Minimize your profile by blending into the local community. Limit outward signs of DoD affiliation … Vehicle stickers, home decorations, using military slang in public.”
⦁ “Uniform service members present in public venues or attending public accessible events should exercise added vigilance.”
⦁ “Be on the lookout for geo-tracking features and disable them.”
⦁ “Do not share private information such as where your children go to school … or other information that allows someone to track your routines and possibly guess when and where you or your family might be.”
The Northcom message includes guidance for public affairs officers when they answer questions about the Islamic State’s threat to troops.
One guidance reads: “Threats such as this are typical of ISIL, illustrating their viciousness and desperation. These actions will not affect our resolve in this fight against ISIL.”
It also says public affairs officers should say, “ISIL and other terror groups are using social media to [intimidate] service members, their dependents, friends and their communities.”
The Washington Times previously reported on an Army memo that warned soldiers to fortify their home’s doors and create safe havens inside in case of an attack.
The memos show that, while the Pentagon has publicly downplayed the danger to personnel and their families by the Islamic State, behind the scenes commanders are deeply worried about attacks on bases, homes and personnel in public.