- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Pentagon is reminding military personnel to be careful when posting on the Internet by warning troops that “loose tweets sink fleets.”

Social media services such as Twitter and Facebook can help soldiers serving abroad stay up-to-date with friends and family back home by allowing loved ones to maintain connections regardless of their whereabouts. Unless the utmost operational security is exercised, however, online postings have the potential of posing some serious problems.

Operational security, or OPSEC — methods and manners undertaken to keep critical information away from adversaries — has been taught in the military for ages. The Air Force says that a rise in social media use has raised new concerns, though, and is once again warning service members to think twice before posting anything online and first ask themselves if a tweet or post could be beneficial to enemy eyes.

“As social media keeps evolving and there’s more and more avenues to let your friends and family know what you are up to, those same avenues can be used by ISIS sympathizers, ‘lone wolves,’ to track down and hurt our military members outside the safety of the base,” Capt. Jonathan McDonald, a force protection chief with the US Air Force Central Command, said in a statement Friday.

“Without OPSEC, our adversaries would be able to freely and easily gather information of our activities and operations; putting missions, resources and members at risk,” added Master Sgt. Aaron Miller, the information security program manager for AFCENT. “Ultimately this could impact a campaign or mission and be detrimental to national strategic and foreign policies.”

The latest warning from the Air Force regarding operational security — circulated through a press release complete with hi-res artwork of a few dozen fighter jets flanked by the slogan “loose tweets sink fleets” — hardly marks the first time the Defense Department has warned soldiers to watch their words on social media during the fight against the self-declared Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL).

In November, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning of leaking “information that might serve to attract the attention of ISIL and its supporters” and urging troops to “routinely exercise operational security in their interactions online.”

Earlier this month, an apparent unit of the Islamic State was said to be responsible for posting details pertaining to hundreds of military and diplomatic personnel on the Internet along with a warning that read: “Know that we are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move.”

The Pentagon downplayed those reports, however, with Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, telling reporters last week that the supposed breach appeared not to be the result of any sort of cyberattack against the military’s networks.

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