First Operations Security Course Taught in Colombia

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Por Dialogo
octubre 05, 2015

It's important to prepare our armed forces for their military and personal future.

As part of the support plan the United States Southern Command maintains with Colombia on Integrated Actions, Bogotá hosted its first basic and intermediate course in Operations Security (OPSEC) with the support of the SOUTHCOM Information Operations Office (J39). Their goal, during the six day course, was to establish mechanisms to raise organizational awareness about information security -- not only information that is classified or secret, but information considered to be mission critical for the Military’s operational missions -- in addition to protecting the personal and family information of military and civilian personnel.

The course was held August 10-15 at the Army Intelligence and Counterintelligence School in Bogotá with the assistance of two experts in Operations Security from SOUTHCOM and representatives from Information Operations at the U.S. Embassy Military Group in Colombia working in coordination with the Counterintelligence Office and the office of the Chief of Joint Integrated Actions at the General Command for the Armed Forces of Colombia.

This first course, which was attended by 40 participants, including officers and NCOs from the Navy, Air Force and Army, was taught primarily by Counterintelligence and Integrated Actions experts at the joint actions level, because the Colombian Military needs to grow its capabilities in OPSEC that do not fall solely under intelligence, but that also creates a synergy that allows counterparts to work together at the operational and strategic levels (J2, J3 y J5).

Its importance lies in the fact that the students were specially selected so that they would spread their knowledge about OPSEC within their respective branches and offices, and so they might possibly become program directors within their units and contribute significantly to the creation, design and implementation of doctrine in this subject. In addition, the knowledge the students have in operations and tactical subjects serves as an example of battlefield experience and allows them to provide guidance in the process of establishing an OPSEC culture.

“The OPSEC course essentially helped me to distinguish and differentiate between the procedures and protocols regarding classified information and sensitive/unclassified information that is still relevant to the mission, and also to protect our families’ information,” said Sergeant Jairo Florez, from the Special Operations Joint Command (CCOES per its Spanish acronym), who participated in the course.

The military units are already using the lessons learned at the Colombian course to hold internal training sessions. CCOES and the International Missions and Integrated Actions School (ESMAI per its Spanish acronyms) are the two units providing general knowledge, introductory courses on OPSEC. Those same offices hope to expand implementation of a formal awareness campaign through informational material that would be delivered to members of different military units and the Colombian Ministry of National Defense beginning in February 2016.