21 November 2014

POTUS Censured for Violating OpSec

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2014— The commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces was informally reprimanded today for giving away details about troop movements.

On his personal Facebook page (different from the White House page) the president posted the following status update early this morning:

The status read, "By the end of the year, U.S. strength will be reduced to 9800 personnel. This represents the readiness of Afghanistan's native forces to take the lead on their own security." It included the hashtag "Forward."

Shortly after the status update was posted, Army Maj. Theodore Breen confronted the president.

"It was a bit difficult to get through his physical security detail," Breen said. "But it was important to point out that seemingly innocent tweets and Facebook updates can give the enemy valuable information."

"I mean, we might as ell annouce to the world that we're sending home a bunch of troops next month," he added.

It was, according to the Army, a classic violation operational security, or "OpSec," as Soldiers refer to it.

The post remains on Obama's Facebook page. It currently has over 10,000 likes and more than 500 shares.

Obama is the first sitting president to have been reprimanded for an OpSec violation. Though, since there is not formal mechanism to reprimand a civilian who is not a Department of Defense employee, Breen has characterized his action as an "informal reprimand."

It is unclear whether Breen was able to personally deliver the censure. The White House has not made a comment.

Breen is an assistant program manger at the Defense Department's Safety and Security Office. He made the metro ride to the White House to confront the president shortly after he saw the Facebook post.

"They wouldn't let me see him. They were kind of rude actually," Breen said, referring to the Secret Service detail on duty at the White House. "They were like, who are you?"

Breen has been a fan of Obama on Facebook since 2011.

"I told them to tell the president that if any of my Soldiers posted about specific numbers and dates of movement, they'd be in a big hot mess," added Breen. "I don't think this Obama guy should be above sound military protocol, even if he is the commander-in-chief."

Breen then left a sticky note with the phrase, "Think Like the Wolf" printed on it. It is campaign the Safety and Security Office developed to remind service members and department civilians to always remember OpSec.

According to a Department of Defense website, "Nearly 90% of the information collected comes from "Open Sources,'" such as the president Facebook page. Obama has over 44 million fans on Facebook.

Breen hopes his superiors will remember his "act of courage" when it comes time to write his Officer Evaluation Report. 

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