WASHINGTON, D.C.— Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, the Air Force chief information officer, and Maj. Gen. Martin Whelan, the Air Force director of future operations, have partnered to increase awareness of the importance of operations security and cybersecurity to protect the Air Force mission, personnel and their families.
“We are thrilled with this new partnership,” Whelan said. “Cybersecurity is such an integral part to ensuring operations security in our Air Force. We want our Air Force personnel to understand that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility and that their daily actions can make or break a mission and/or put themselves and their families at risk.”
Bender agreed. “We are hoping that by pairing our OPSEC and new cybersecurity logos together it will remind personnel of the relationship that OPSEC and cybersecurity share in keeping our personnel and our mission safe.”
OPSEC has always been an important factor in the military. The official OPSEC program launched during Vietnam in 1966 with Operation Purple Dragon. “Purple Dragon” was the unclassified nickname, given by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a study done on the loss of B-52 Stratofortresses in Southeast Asia. National leadership became concerned that there was a security breach since U.S. B-52 bombers were being shot down at a very high rate. It was apparent that the North Vietnamese had been gaining prior knowledge of bombing mission times and locations. Thus, Operation Purple Dragon was born and it was soon discovered that existing procedures allowed flight plans to be received directly by Hanoi.
OPSEC has since become an established process used by military, federal, state and local agencies, as well as private companies. Each year, additional businesses realize the importance of OPSEC in their day-to-day operations to help protect proprietary and sensitive information from disclosure, espionage and exploitation. Even at home, OPSEC can help protect a person’s identity, family and home from those who strive to exploit their information for personal gain.
In today’s world, modern technology instantly enables any individual to share information around the globe. Though people may intentionally share this information with relatives and business partners they could also be unintentionally providing access of this same information to terrorist and criminal organizations. Cybersecurity and OPSEC can help protect personal and critical information. As threats around the world continue to grow, OPSEC will always be there to protect a precious commodity: information.
Today, the OPSEC (Purple) Dragon symbolizes the importance of protecting critical information and observable actions about mission capabilities, limitations and intentions in order to prevent or control exploitation by an adversary. The new Cybersecurity Dragon falls in the same family by symbolizing the importance of cybersecurity to protect and secure our personnel and their mission allowing the Air Force to fly, fight and win in a cyber-contested environment.
The OPSEC Dragon has done a superb job reminding Air Force personnel of the importance of operations security for decades. When partnered with the new Air Force Cybersecurity Dragon, the two act as a powerful reminder to help protect Air Force personnel, their missions and their families.
“Virtually every mission across the range of military operations depends on cybersecurity and every Airman has an important role to play with respect to OPSEC and cybersecurity,” Bender said. “We are much more effective when everyone plays their part.”