Navy tells Sailors to end conversations about capabilities, enemies looking to exploit

The United States Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000 after it was attacked by terrorists while it was being refueled in Yemen's Aden harbor. Seventeen American sailors were killed and 39 injured in the deadliest attack against a United States naval vessel since 1987. According to the Director of Naval OPSEC Support Team, Jim Magdalenski, the USS Cole was able to be targeted because its position was made public. (Screenshot from "All Hands Update: Social Media OPSEC" video below)

The Chief of Naval Operations is asking sailors to refrain from discussing the service’s capabilities.

In a memo dated Mar. 1, 2017, Adm. John Richardson said giving away too much information diminishes the Navy’s competitive edge.

In a modern world of social media and what appear to be endless leaks hemorrhaging from Washington, Richardson writes it’s more important than ever for everyone in the Navy to scrutinize and protect sensitive information.

He also asks sailors to be situationally aware when attending events more aimed at “marketing” and don’t provide any real value to the service.

“Instead, prioritize your time and energy toward events that directly improve our ability to execute our mission — to help us win more decisively at sea,” he writes.

At the same time, Richardson does show a keen sense for winning the hearts and minds of American citizens. He clarifies that he is not ordering sailors to avoid discussions with the public or the media.

“Telling the Navy’s story is important to maintain public trust and confidence,” he said.

He closes saying that enemies around the world are looking for any chance to exploit vulnerability.

“Make no mistake: our adversaries for any possible edge. Let’s not make their task any easier.”

Admiral Richardson

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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