White Letter of 12-27-91


27 Dec 91


From: Commandant of the Marine Corps
To: All General Officers
All Commanding Officers
All Officers in Charge


1. The purpose of this letter is to emphasize the importance of Operations Security (OPSEC) within the Marine Corps.

2. As the United States moves into the multipolar world of the 2lst century true allies and adversaries remain as yet unidentified. The need to identify and protect critical information and technologies, so important to the defense of the United States, must become and remain an integral part of our everyday operations and training. The ultimate purpose of OPSEC
is to prevent an adversary or potential adversary from obtaining information which allows the accurate prediction of friendly courses of action. As demonstrated during Operations Desert
Shield and Desert Storm the use of deceptive operations were a major factor to the successful execution of the ground campaign.

3. OPSEC is a command responsibility. The operations staff (S-3/G-3) is responsible for assisting the commander in the overall planning and execution of training and operations. It also has the responsibility for the supervision of the Command's OPSEC program. A comprehensive OPSEC program entails: (1) the identification of critical information, (2) analysis of the threats, (3) analysis of the vulnerabilities, (4) the assessment of risks and (5) the application of appropriate countermeasures. Commanders must ensure that their entire staff continually incorporate the OPSEC fundamentals in their daily routine in order to provide maximum protection for operational planning and execution. However, the requirement for OPSEC extends beyond the FMF commanders. Commanders of Marine Corps Bases, Logistics Bases and those Marines and civilian employees who serve in every echelon of the supporting establishment who are involved in systems development, acquisition or support of deployed FMF units must ensure that an active and effective OPSEC program is established and maintained.

4. The revolutionary changes in Central Europe and the Soviet Union are resulting in increased personal contacts and exchange programs - both highly desirable, but with obvious counter-intelligence implications. Treaty monitoring teams will be visiting more and more sensitive U.S. installations and facilities. Unfortunately, arms monitoring sites are frequently


collocated with other sensitive activities unrelated to the arms control program. The multipolar world possesses significantly different OPSEC challenges than the familiar bipolar situation of the past four decades. We cannot become complacent in our OPSEC efforts in dealing with Third World nations and leaders with formidable military and intelligence capabilities. Surprise and security will remain particularly critical if forward deployed FMF units are to function effectively in responding to crises.

5. Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm brought with them an aggressive and determined media corps. Operational commanders and public affairs officers must carefully balance and coordinate operational security, planning, execution and legitimate information flow to prevent erroneous or inappropriate responses, which may jeopardize military operations or personnel.

6. Finally, the most critical elements in maintaining an effective OPSEC program are the individual Marine and civilian employee. Continuous OPSEC awareness must highlight the importance and necessity of OPSEC. Training should teach Marines and civilian employees to emphasize the nature and importance of OPSEC to their families.

7. As our Marine Corps draws down, resources will be limited. I urge each of you to look at an effective OPSEC program as a potential force multiplier and ensure it is an integral part of day to day planning and operations.