We have watched over the last few years as a group of Islamic radicals have gained ground in the Middle East, and have also drawn weak-minded people into their terroristic rampage. How is it that this group can entice people that reside across a vast ocean to come to their side? The answer is an easy one…the Internet.
For many people, including military personnel, the Internet is a great tool. It can be used for educational purposes, sharing with friends and family among many other positive things. But, the Internet can also be a weapon that can be used against us.
How The Internet Can Be Used Against Us
Just as we tell people to be careful what they post online knowing that burglars, rapists, and thieves can use that information against us, the same can be said about terrorist organizations like ISIS.
When Bob posts on his Facebook page that he and his wife are going to vacation in the Rocky Mountains for a week, people like Harold the House Burglar take notice, especially when Bob’s address is on the same page.
So, let’s say that Johnny Mortar Man tells his friends on Twitter that the defensive battery on one side of their position at their small base in Iraq is having some issues. Johnny Tweets: “Man, I hope these bastards don’t attack us until the parts are flown in.”
And, ISIS attacks because they were monitoring Johnny’s Twitter account.
Do you see my point?
Just recently, an ISIS sympathizer was found guilty in the United Kingdom of planning attacks against any United States military.
So, How Is Your Online Footprint?
I do not believe military members should completely disappear from the Internet. I do believe that it needs to be handled wisely, though. If addresses of your family are listed, I suggest getting them off. I also suggest you think before you type.
Put yourself in the shoes of the member of ISIS who is monitoring your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or blog. Could they gain information that they can use to attack you or your family?
Not long ago, a group that is directly linked to ISIS called the Islamic State Hacking Division, released a United States military “hit list.” They found military personnel who had fought against ISIS. They showed the member’s picture, name and addresses listed. So, not only was the service member in danger, their family members were also threatened.
The fact is: terrorists are monitoring Social Media and the Internet.
There have been some in the Pentagon who are all for completely shutting the Internet off to the military. The first problem with doing that is the 1st amendment of the Constitution. Actually, we here at Part Time Commander are happy that this hasn’t happened, because it would probably shut the website down.
If you are in the military, and you want to start a blog or website, it is important that you first consult your Operations Security Officer so you understand what you can, and cannot post. You don’t have to consult your Commander and OPSEC Officer if the blog is not military related, that you are not acting on behalf of the Army in any way on the blog and you are not using government property to make the blog.
Personally, I think you should still consult your Commander even if the blog is about something completely unrelated to military life. This shows that you are being transparent and not attempting to hide anything.
When it comes to Social Media and emails, it means just being aware that the enemy is probably watching. You need to make your family aware of Operational Security too. If you write something to them in an email, and they post it on Facebook, it could put you, and your fellow soldiers at risk.
Other Ways Posts Can Harm You
Maybe you are leaning toward a Republican President or a Democrat one. So, you are on your Twitter feed and you say that you think Trump will get trumped by Hillary. You could be taking a huge chance with your military career. My suggestion is: you can have your political views, but keep them to yourself and not to the world on Social Media.
Let me just say that there have been service members kicked out for stepping across that thin line.
I recommend that as a Commander or leader, you should slightly monitor your soldier’s social presence. It doesn’t mean that you have to see every single thing they do, but just checking in from time to time will give you the opportunity to ensure they are operating with Operational Security in the forefront.
It also doesn’t hurt to just throw out a reminder to your troops about being safe on the Internet every once in awhile.
What are your opinions on this subject? What do you think the Army and/or military should do about ISIS and the Internet? Please share your opinions, questions or suggestions in the comments section below. Thank you.