Operational Security: The Complete Guide to Improving Your Security and Defending Your Privacy

The standard answer to OPSEC (Operational Security) is based on secrecy and the general concept of keeping your preps, your location, your networks, and sometimes even your survivalist mentality all to yourself, or at the very least known to as few other people as possible. This is very similar to the conventional OPSEC practiced in the military, where it almost always makes good tactical sense to employ a “need to know” philosophy. After all, if an adversary knows your exact location and your defenses, he can use that information to shape his attack and increase his chances of success.

Less Strategic Sense To Keep Things Completely Secret

But just like in some examples in the military, it can actually make less strategic or “big picture” sense to keep such things completely secret. For example, an adversary or an ally can both be significantly influenced by knowing about one’s strong military and its capabilities, or by being informed of decisions and actions that have been or will be taken. Along those lines, in my personal life, I’ve gone with another OPSEC route for several reasons.

Survivalism That’s About Preserving Values

Survivalism, for me, is not just about personal survival, about simply preserving my own life as long as absolutely possible under any and all circumstances. Instead, it’s about preserving the virtues, ideas, concepts, and values I cherish. It’s about “carrying the fire” in the face of threats to it. When looked at from that perspective, in my particular situation, it makes the most sense, in the long run and in the big picture, to not keep my preps, actions, and mentality an absolute secret and to not practice conventional military-style OPSEC. Let me explain, and of course and as always, your own mileage may vary…

We’re All Going to Die

We are all going to die. Read that again. We are all going to die in the end, and nothing we do or prepare for or invest in or build or learn will change that, nothing. That may seem silly to bother to point out here, but a lot of people don’t actually accept that irrefutable concept until late in their life, if at all. The very term “survivalist” seems to run contrary to the absolute reality that none of us will actually end up surviving, if we look at the earthly end game we will all share. From my way of thinking, maybe we should refer to ourselves are “preservists” instead. I say that in jest, of course, but I think most of you will understand my point.

Beyond Survivalism, Risks Are Taken To Preserve Ideas and Values

To help understand this, think about this concept in terms of not just the microcosm of survivalism but also in the people and jobs we see around us every day. Would we have any soldiers if personal survival was the highest goal one could have? Especially in these times of multiple deployments to combat zones, most soldiers don’t still volunteer to do what they do in order to increase the chances of their personal survival; they should certainly have decided otherwise and chosen another job, if so! Instead, many do it to serve, preserve, and safeguard the ideas and values they believe in.

I should know; I am a soldier and have been for over 25 years, including over four years’ worth of deployments. A similar thing could maybe even be said for some of the more dangerous, service-based jobs, like firefighters or peace officers. If personal safety and survival trumped all else, recruiting for any of those jobs would certainly be a lot harder!

OPSEC Prepping– An Unobtainable Myth Today

Further, I personally think 90% or more of OPSEC-based prepping is an unobtainable myth today, unfortunately. Keeping your mentality and your preps to yourself might indeed be enough to keep it out of the minds of the Golden Horde or common thieves, but our travels, our purchases, even our web-browsing history are no secret from lots of people and agencies, many of whom are not of a similar or favorable mindset. That’s enough said, I would think.

Why I Chose the Minority View on OPSEC

Let’s get back to my own situation and why I choose the contrary, admittedly-minority view on OPSEC. I am married, but my wife and I don’t have children of our own to care for. I work at a military college, where I get to instruct hundreds of young people every year in all sorts of topics. Integrity, self-reliance, personal responsibility, leadership, broad personal skillsets, among others— all of these attributes represent not only a good part of what we try to teach here but also mesh very well with what traits one of the “good guy” survivalists should personally have.

Most of what we teach here is (sadly) brand new to most recent high school graduates, and many of the concepts central to the survivalist mindset are completely unheard of as well. Or, as is increasingly common, today’s young people’s only previous exposure to the concept of survivalism has been gained from Hollywood or the mainstream media– one we all know is hardly ever accurate or flattering. After working with some of our cadets on their military or marksmanship training, or as their tac officer, counselor, or other advisor, I will sometimes bring them into the loop on my survival mentality, sometimes even including specifics of my own preps. And just like when someone gains a new skill for the first time, I can often see the lightbulb go on in their head.

Not Done Randomly With Just Anyone

This is certainly not done randomly or haphazardly, or broadly to just anyone with whom I work or have contact. I certainly do not believe in or endorse putting traceable pictures or maps online, for example! But once I get to know someone personally, to me the possibility of sharing a mentality and creating another one of “us”, especially when it’s a young man or woman of character, supersedes the obvious and conventional OPSEC risk to me and my preps. The result of all this has been that in the last decade or more I’ve personally created scores of new, young preppers, who have then gone on to jobs and communities throughout the United States, both in the military and civilian sectors. There’s more than a few “good guys” out there who got their first exposure to and guidance in the things we talk about on SurvivalBlog from me.

Military Examples of OPSEC

Let’s go back to my earlier military example. If traditional OPSEC kept our military defenses and abilities secret from an enemy, I think we would all agree that secrecy might cause a subsequent attack to have a lesser chance of being successful. But if we instead told him about the robustness of our defense or the firmness of our resolve, one result of that disclosure could be to deter his attack in the first place. To many of us, the Cold War serves as a prime example of these two broad and complementary strategies. Maybe the traditional stealth-prepper can be thought of as the (formerly) secret hideaway at the Greenbrier Hotel or the always-hiding nuclear submarines, while the non-traditional, more open prepper is the unified front of a visibly strong and growing NATO, who conducts training exercises in plain sight.

A second result of non-OPSEC prepping could very easily be the recruiting of additional allies to bolster our own defense, watch our back, spread our values, et cetera in our own lives. Given what we see today, I don’t think non-OPSEC prepping can really accomplish the first result, but it most certainly does contribute towards the second. I need only look around my own community to know that for certain.

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