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The twenty-first-century Air Force has maintained a twentieth-century operations security (OPSEC) culture, one heavily oriented toward speech and activities related to an Airman’s official duties. Air Force OPSEC policy and culture insufficiently address the connected world characterized by ubiquitous data collection. This gap creates a critical vulnerability with the potential to diminish the Air Force’s competitive edge in a future conflict. The author proposes potential safeguards and mitigation strategies, highlighting the challenge of addressing a vulnerability that is deeply intertwined with an Airman’s personal life. He further suggests adopting a framework of subjective and objective harm to reorient the Air Force’s OPSEC culture. Finally, he recommends a mitigation approach based in education and training occurring throughout an Airman’s career. Doing so will grow a culture of educated awareness surrounding the threat posed by ubiquitous data collection and population-based surveillance.
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