OPSEC Fail, Revisited

A couple days ago, I pointed out some farcical attempts by the USAF to conceal the location of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, who are deployed at “an undisclosed air base in Southwest Asia” – actually Al Udied, in Qatar. I believed – and still largely believe – that this secrecy is a really badly misguided attempt at operational security, or OPSEC. A reader, however, contacted me and suggested an interesting aspect to the whole thing: The Air Force, he or she says, are concealing their presence in Qatar so as to not draw unwanted pressure from other Arab nations onto their host country, who are, perhaps, not as enthusiastic about having a permanent American air base on their soil as they could be.

If that’s true, then the Air Force’s inability to successfully conceal their presence at Al Udieb takes on a more sinister aspect: It’s no longer a matter of force protection and physical security, protecting individuals against “insurgent” attack, but potentially a matter of the base’s continued survival at the mercy of the host country.

In that scenario, a couple of military journalists aren’t the only problem; the 379th AEW are themselves incredibly negligent. You see, their website contains at least ten references to “Qatar”, including two fairly damning references that pretty much give the game away. One is the official biography of the squadron’s Command Chief Master Sergeant:

The other is the squadron’s new arrival handbook (PDF!), which almost never mentions the name of the country – though it mentions at least four other things which are definite OPSEC no-nos – until you get to the very last page:

“Undisclosed location”? Not so much so, no…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on September 24th, 2008| 1 Comment »

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  1. On 1/6/2009 at 4:15 pm Nemo Said:

    I should point out, the links in the article above have changed, due to some sort of reorganization – the new arrival handbook is now right here, and the biography is now right here… if anyone cares.