Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Much "Sec" in Your OpSec?

"OpSec" stands for operations security. It means not letting people know you are sitting on stockpiles of food, water, and ammunition. It means not letting people know where those stockpiles might be. Ultimately, it can mean not letting people know of your very existence.

It's not hard to see why OpSec could be important. If you've prepared for disaster, when disaster strikes you'll be depending on what you've prepared. None of us are prepared with enough resources for everyone who needs them in a widespread disaster, so dispersing those resources throughout the community poses a risk that there won't be enough for our own families. If it were known that have more supplies than we need for today, then others might come and ask for some of our supplies; maybe they'll pay, maybe they won't, but in either case our families can't eat cash. Worse, some might come to take what we have by force. The threat of routine theft will likely be compounded in an emergency, as law enforcement is overwhelmed at the very moment people are desperate for food and water.

But keeping operations security is easier said than done. Many times, our purchases leave a paper trail. In this age of Doomsday Preppers and National Geographic's American Blackout, people are becoming attuned to the concept of households in their midst stocked with emergency supplies. What people in your community could know about your preparations? Your family? Your small children? Their friends? Your post man? Your grocer? Your neighbor who's seen you unloading 7-gallon water containers from the car? A friend that went camping with you one time at your bug-out location? The construction workers who put in your shelving? Your work buddy who ran into you at the shooting range?

How else might one stumble onto your stash? Stacks of 5-gallon buckets or racks of first-in, first-out canned food storage might be glimpsed as you back out of the garage. The aroma of chicken alfredo wafting from your home could make a point when most people are scrounging together meals of odd cans of hominy and cranberry sauce from the back of your cupboard. The clucking of your chickens or the shoots emerging from the dirt in your field could get wheels turning. Heck, even a conversation about such things can get you filed into the "prepper" category of an acquaintance's mind.

My own opinion is that OpSec falls along a continuum rather than being "on" or "off." At one extreme is the ideal of total OpSec--and a life without meaningful relationships; at the other extreme is a life of complete openness and transparency--no secrets, but also no being ready. It's just not worth the effort to keep all people out of the loop. If we love, we put ourselves at risk--and I choose a life with family, loved ones, and good friends. I am not willing to cut myself off completely from society and live in a spider hole in the forest. I figure I'm just about as likely to need help from others as others will need from me. So it looks like I'd better be getting ready now for some of those awkward conversations, where a friend of a friend asks for something I just can't spare.

I'm also getting ready now for people that aren't friendly at all. Prudence dictates having supplies in several different secure locations, being aware of any demonstrations of interest in my affairs, and planning what to do if I or my family are threatened. One can decide what to do at the moment when a stranger lets himself into one's yard past a closed gate, or one can think about that scenario in advance; better I say to avoid stressful situations full of uncertainty and danger through prior planning, than to be a trigger-happy danger to the community or a well-provisioned victim. What's not realistic is to think only those I've intended to inform know my business, or that they'll all be harmless if they do.

Let me stress this: complete OpSec is not a rational option (no man is an island), nor is complete openness and disregard of OpSec. If you're like me and want to embrace some level of society even in wild times, then it's best to start building that society now. Or if your circle of protection is much smaller, better to start drawing back from wider society now. Find your comfort point on the continuum between total privacy and total convenience, and try to live your life consistent with that choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment