Afghanistan OPSEC and Logistics

Coming up with the plan to get myself to Kandahar was all on me.  Logistically it was pretty easy to figure out how to get half-way around the world.  Traveling as one I am able to move freely from point A to point B to point C and on to point D. 

Turns out anyone with a reason, the means, and the will to spend 45 hours in transit can get to Kandahar.

Getting from Kandahar to Zabul Province, though maybe a distance of 200 miles, requires much more planning and logistical fire power.  Once I get to Kandahar I am no longer traveling as one.  I am traveling with the United States Army.

Loose Lips


Beyond Kandahar I have no idea how I’m getting to where I’m going. Even if I did know, OPSEC, or Operations Security, wouldn’t allow me to disclose the information.

OPSEC isn’t a new concept.  Think of WWII-era posters emblazoned with the slogan, “Loose Lips Sink Ships”.  In 1946 the worry was a soldier’s letter home would be intercepted and that spelled trouble if he included  details about where they are stationed, how many soldiers he is with and what’s next in regards to their plans.

OPSEC today

OPSEC - today

Today, the technology at the fingertips of soldiers – and journalists – as we are traveling within the theater Skyping, chatting, filing stories, e-mailing with friends and family via Twitter and Facebook exponentially multiplies the chances information is going to fall into the wrong hands.  If I am able to file blogs from Afghanistan I will be writing safely on the side of logistical vagueness.

This morning my focus was on how to get from Kandahar to my final destination. I exchanged a few e-mails with members of the Public Affairs team at the Media Support Center within the Kandahar Airfield (KAF).  The e-mails were the result of me not completely understanding some earlier questions posed to me by KAF in my Invitational Travel Order (ITO). Fortunately members of the Minnesota-based Public Affairs team from the Zabul Agribusiness Development Team were tracking and they gave me the answers to send on to KAF.  After a few more follow up emails with the KAF Public Affairs Sergeant – e-mails in which two Captains, a Major, and three Colonels were copied – it was decided that they had the information they needed.

I apologized for the number of messages backing up everyone’s in-boxes and thanked the Public Affairs Sergent at the KAF Media Support Center who initiated this morning’s contact with this note:

Thank you, this is my second embed (2009, Basra Iraq) and I can honestly say that the ‘collective you’ take very good care of media.  Your support in all of this is much appreciated.

The Sergeant’s response reminded me why I am so excited to be a part of this project.

Thank you very much. We appreciate the ‘collective you’ coming out to tell our stories and want to make sure the process is as painless as possible. No worries about duplicate emails, the more info the better!

Logistically today was a good day.