Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Social Networking And The New Threat Environment

Blogs and social networking sites are great ways for military people to share stories and reconnect with old friends, but we have to realize our enemies use the 'net as well. Check out this story from Navy Times:
Jihadist threats online against U.S. warships in the Middle East have spiked since just before the New Year, according to a monitoring group in Washington, including some of the most ambitious calls yet for terror attacks specifically on the Navy and sailors.
One Dec. 30 post, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, calls for readers to assemble and submit information about American ships and their crews in chilling detail:
“Information on every U.S. naval unit — and only U.S. [units]! — should be quietly gathered [as follows:] [The vessel’s] name, the missions it is assigned; its current location …; the advantages of this naval unit; the number of U.S. troops on board, including if possible their ranks, and what state they are from, their family situation, and where their family members (wife and children) live; what kind of weapons they carry; the [vessel’s] destination …; the missions it has carried out; the way to monitor it around the clock; if its location is changed, define its movements and its route; monitor every Web site used by the personnel on these ships, and attempt to discover what is in these contacts.”
The writer, whose handle is “Ubada bin Al-Samit” and who posted on a Web forum called Al-Falluja, assured readers every item would be useful:
“My Muslim brothers, do not underestimate the importance of any piece of information, as simple as it may seem; the mujahideen, the lions of monotheism, may be able to use it in ways that have not occurred to you.”
More posts about this can be found here and here. Granted, a lot of that information can be gleaned from the Navy's own official press releases, but things like the names of crewmembers and their families and future port visit information are most likely to come from people posting on blogs and Facebook pages. The MCPON has some good guidance on how to deal with OPSEC in a new age; excerpt:
There are threats, though, that he believes are real and potentially very dangerous. "Anyone who thinks our enemies don't monitor what our Sailors, families and commands are doing via the Internet and social media had better open their eyes," said West. "These sites are great for networking, getting the word out and talking about some of our most important family readiness issues, but our Sailors and their loved ones have to be careful with what they say and what they reveal about themselves, their familes or their commands."
West said the Navy family needs to avoid discussing information about their units, such as location, schedules and specific missions or assets.
"That's standard OPSEC," said West. "But we're not talking about 'loose lips sinking ships' anymore, it's more than that. Our enemies are advanced and as technologically savvy as they've ever been. They're looking for personal information about our Sailors, our families and our day-to-day activities as well as ways to turn that information into maritime threats."
Which brings us to how to handle things like commenting on blogs like this one. I normally don't post anything that hasn't appeared in the media yet, but I have to be aware that this is a good aggregation site for a jihadi who might not have good internet search skills. (Of course, I'm aware that it's not just jihadis who are interested in submarines -- the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians might be getting useful insights from here as well.)

Our freedoms are our strength, and I don't intend to stop sharing stories and concerns on the 'net just because someone might be able to use the information to better understand how to attack us. On the other hand, I don't want to be stupid. Let's police ourselves such that we aren't posting the names of people currently on submarines that aren't released by the Navy (usually that's just the CO's name) and re-doubling our efforts to ensure we don't post about future fleet movements that aren't released by the Navy. With these common sense suggestions, I'm sure we can continue to enjoy some spirited interaction and yarn-spinning that Submariners do so well.

What do you think? Is there anything else we can do to ensure we don't compromise the safety of our shipmates and their families?


Blogger SJV said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/07/2010 10:07 AM

Blogger SJV said...

In general, this topic is covered until what termed "Competitive Intelligence". Take a look at for tips on how to participate in social networking without revealing too much. SCIP is more geared to business and industry, but most of the lessons are similar to what we deal with.

1/07/2010 10:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! I want to make this available to every military person so they can be a bit mroe careful. Scary the jihadist want to know family members and locations!


1/07/2010 10:50 AM

Anonymous retcob said...

Great post, Joel. Can you make it so new visitors are attracted to it in the future?

1/07/2010 11:21 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Sure, be careful on the web. But the ease with which classified information can be extracted was well illustrated by Tom Clancy in Hunt For Red October. If you'll put your mind back to the early '80s when the book was first published and go through its pages, you'll find that it goes from UNCLAS to TS-CodeWord in the same paragraph.

I asked Tom where he got all this stuff. Answer: I live near Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant outside DC and I sell insurance to ex-submarine nukes, drink beer with them, etc. Open source access to well-classified information.

It's not the medium that matters, it's the self-discipline and awareness of the individual holding the sensitive information.

Right now the Army is conducting a witchhunt among military bloggers in that Service. From reviewing that situation, I judge that the threat of censorship and restriction of free speech and free press are a greater hazard than inadvertent release of classified info. If the Jihadist goal is to harm our way of life and adversely affect our freedoms, the Army seems to be in concert with them.

1/07/2010 11:40 AM

Blogger SonarMan said...

Frequently, especially in homecoming PA photos, there will be a caption "MM2(SS) is greeted by his wife Jane, and his 2 year-old son Bobbyon the pier. PO Shmuckatelli is a crewman aboard the USS US City, just returning from a deployment to the Mediterranean." These are the kinds of things that the article you discussed. Perhaps the Navy should take a second look at how they do publicity photos, or at least the captions.

1/07/2010 11:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get the Mulligan to post more comments. His inane blather could either throw the bad guys off track or give them a false sense of over confidence.

1/07/2010 3:41 PM

Blogger Old Curmudgeon said...

I think the name fits.

Mulligan mul-i-gun (noun) Dipshit info. Less than reliable. see: red herring (as in: smells)

1/07/2010 4:24 PM

Blogger Randall said...

people still ramble on about things they shouldnt out in town as well. just today during lunch at Quiznos in Groton, 3 civilian dressed sailors were openly talking about a valve problem in the nuke plant on the sub that they were assigned to, rattling off the vavle number, who was working on it, etc.
stupid bastards.

1/07/2010 5:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and you KNOW what happens to the STUPID!!

1/07/2010 5:30 PM

Blogger Lou said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/07/2010 5:35 PM

Blogger Lou said...

CSG 10 has posted an article on the same subject. The same advice applies if you want to maintain OPSEC in your personal life :)

1/07/2010 5:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I see you made Facebook today. The MCPON posted your link on his page.

So, anything that you have on this blog that is even marginal is now being opened up to a new stream of viewers!

This may be good though. The taxpayer can read about the silliness in the sub force and how the lack of money is impacting everything from maintenance to morale.

And MCPON, if you are reading this: Get in there, be the Chief and fix this SEAL railroad job that is happening.

QMC(SS) Retired

1/07/2010 8:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it was a great article. I have been looking for something to pass along to my fellow sub wives to help them realize the importance of keeping their online postings discrete to say the least. I am most certainly passing along this link to them. Thank you.

1/07/2010 10:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish some of those fucksticks here would try some shit and give me an excuse to light up their ass. Maybe Dearbornistan should just be nuked instead.

1/07/2010 10:16 PM

Blogger bigsoxfan said...

doors seem to have been opened. Hope another truly interesting blog isn't going to go glug, once the idiot elephant has gotten it's nose under the tent. Even as a lowly merchant sailor (yeah, target) with free email, I knew enough to stum on sailings and routes. I trust the USN to maintain the standards, I learned from. The army? Well, they can move their tents.

1/08/2010 12:20 AM

Blogger bigsoxfan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/08/2010 12:20 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...


I see two potential pitfalls from your posts--

1. Because of your Google Metrics, you should be able to see any 'Iranian' or 'Yemeni' or 'Jordainian' access to your site.

2. Submariners are pretty good with not telling anyone where they're going. That, and the lack of internet access underway probably keeps these problems confined to the surface Navy. As an ELT, I really didn't have any idea when or why we were going out on mission until we were actually on mission. I only really knew that we'd be leaving for about 5-7 weeks, somewhere from Yokosuka (which puts basically the entire world in range).

I think it's good to remember, but don't be too reactionary.

1/08/2010 7:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I only really knew that we'd be leaving for about 5-7 weeks, somewhere from Yokosuka..."

You might think that is not much information right there, but that actually says a lot more than needs to be out there. Refer to original post!

1/08/2010 7:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 1016, 010710,

Wow, Dearbornisgan, huh? Maybe we should just ship them all off to internment camps, or better yet, how 'bout we only give them 3/5ths of a vote. There's precedent for either.

OBTW, I work in River Rouge, MI.

Joe Alferio

1/08/2010 7:25 AM

Blogger SonarMan said...

Dearbornistan...LOL! Too funny!

Hey, Joe Alferio, I like the internment camp idea. Great thinking! That way we know where they all are...

I think 3/5 vote is generous, especially if they're going to vote in Sharia law on us until us infidels have to pay the dzhimi tax.

BTW, please say hello to everone in River Rouge-ania for me.


1/08/2010 8:19 AM

Anonymous retcob said...

Joe A, Sonarman, and anonymous at 1016, 010710:

We sacrifice all that time, energy, family-time, money and life to protect a Constitution that permits, hell, invites, immigration from around the world and now we're for camps and partial representation? What the hell were/are we serving for then? Protection for the white anglo-saxon protestant with an American pedigree dating back to the Pilgrims? Are they the only folks we should permit to live here? Do you qualify? Come on...

And Sonarman, I think you might have misunderstood Joe. Anyone who lives/works in River Rouge has learned a considerable lesson in toleration. At least I hope so.

Brighton, MI

1/08/2010 8:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know my post was meant to be sarcastic, and I'm pretty sure that sonarman's was, also.

I think that my ultimate point is that freedom is not now, nor has it ever been, a zero sum game. You can't consolidate your own freedom and liberty by denying others there's.

Having said that, I will now step down off my soapbox and get back to my lunch.

Joe Alferio

1/08/2010 9:07 AM

Anonymous retcob said...

Joe: I stand relieved... -retcob

1/08/2010 9:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am not now, nor will I ever be, qualified to relieve you, sir.

Joe Alferio ET1 (SS)

1/08/2010 9:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearbornistan inhabitants in recent news:

FOX News

ABC News

Detroit Free Press

1/08/2010 10:26 AM

Anonymous retcob said...

Anon 1/08/2010 10:26 AM.

So now you'd like to abolish political/symbolic freedom of speech? What the hell do you think you've been engaged in? How many civil liberties would you like dissolve? Religion? (All except yours, I suppose. Or maybe you'd prefer a state religion, say, Islam?) Or the press? Lets get rid of the Internet so you don't have a forum for your absurdity. Guns? Let's get rid of search warrants.

Thankfully you have remained anonymous. We'd hate to have a moniker to hang on such stupidity.

Bill Lapham

1/08/2010 11:13 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...


You in Michigan? There's a reason for my asking that's WAY beyond anything on this blog. Thanks in advance.


1/08/2010 3:15 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...


Sheez, now that I've gone back and actually READ the part where you said you ARE in MI, let me ask a more relevant question: Any of your relatives fly the A-1 Skyraider during Vietnam?

1/08/2010 3:27 PM

Blogger ret.cob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/08/2010 3:48 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

I was at the funeral. Drop me an email and I'll share more.

1/08/2010 4:45 PM

Anonymous Mark said...

I sincerely wish you could have saved (and expressed) some of your outrage for the punks who thought their sweatshirts were a clever statement.

1/08/2010 5:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So now you'd like to abolish political/symbolic freedom of speech? What the hell do you think you've been engaged in? How many civil liberties would you like dissolve? Religion? (All except yours, I suppose. Or maybe you'd prefer a state religion, say, Islam?) Or the press? Lets get rid of the Internet so you don't have a forum for your absurdity. Guns? Let's get rid of search warrants.

Thankfully you have remained anonymous. We'd hate to have a moniker to hang on such stupidity.

Bill Lapham

For those who, like yourself apparently, are naive enough to believe that the practitioners of Islam will not impose Sharia law upon the populace of the U.S. once their numbers are sufficient. Their numbers WILL be sufficient unless we prevent further immigration and screen the hell out of the ones already here. To deny an internal conflict with them only delays the inevitable. Take a look at what is going on in Europe with a few riots and burqua-wearing baby factories. It's coming, ready or not.

1/08/2010 5:43 PM

Blogger ret.cob said...

anon 1/08/2010 5:43 PM, & Mark,

I'm not "naive" enough to think that closing the borders, eliminating immigration and isolating the United States from the rest of the world will protect us from attack. I believe such actions will only invite more of it. And dissolving civil liberties only makes us more like them and less like what we want to be.

1/08/2010 7:23 PM

Blogger Mark said...

I'd appreciate it if you would consider the point I made, and not dismiss it by implying that I am part of some lunatic fringe. I called for none of what you mentioned.

1/08/2010 7:56 PM

Blogger ret.cob said...


Of course, you're right. I got carried away by the assault on the Bill of Rights.

What those school children did was rude, offensive and stupid. They should be punished by the school administration and told to change their shirts.

Thanks for getting me back on track.

1/08/2010 9:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, thanks for posting. I sent the link to my Ombudsman, to hopefully share with other family members.

-Another Crazy Navy Wife

1/08/2010 9:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic
Five years ago USS San Francisco ran aground.
MM2(SS) Joseph Allen Ashley R.I.P.
We have the watch.

1/08/2010 9:30 PM

Blogger Mark said...

Thanks COB - good to see class acts on the board.

1/08/2010 9:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those who are quick to give drooling respect to unverified COB's and CO's are a salesman's dream.

A fool and his money are soon parted, indeed............

1/08/2010 10:57 PM

Blogger Mark said...

@ 10:57 anonymous,
Drooling? Because I gave the guy props for being gracious after mildly busting his balls? Why would anyone lie about being a COB anyway? I probably am more aligned with your politics than his, but you got some issues, dude...

1/08/2010 11:50 PM

Blogger ret.cob said...

Hey, I understand...It's the Internet. We should be careful. I was the COB in 734(B), a great T-hull. (Back then, you didn't get a choice of fast attack or boomer. If you were COB qualified and they needed you, you went. They called them "orders.") I relieved Tommy Connell, a legend (he was the Dive during the famous curly-cue D5 shot). COs were Don Hahnfeldt (who wrote "The Heart That Beats in the Shark of Steel") and Bill Caston. A COB tour is three years plus or minus 10 minutes. It's the hardest job you'll ever love. We had an outstanding crew who made it easy to get through a COB tour without getting fired!

1/09/2010 8:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wildly off-topic thread of 'discussion.' Sheesh.

1/09/2010 9:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you get a choice between ssn and boomers? That's news to me...

1/09/2010 4:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Navy Times posts this article, and then if you go down just a few lines, there's a link to a story on the USS Curts deployment. In which they describe what port they left from, and where they will be deployed to! What importance is this information to be given to the general public? I fear that Navy leadership is going to allow this to happen until there is another massive attack against US sailors.

1/09/2010 8:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Security and liberty are locked in a zero-sum equation. If you have more security you necessarily have less liberty, and vice versa. We want to show the flag around the world. We don't want to cower in the corner wimpering that the world is too dangerous for our Sailors to play in it. We want to put Sailors ashore to have a good time and show the locals we are really nice people. And we want the rest of the world to leave them alone while they have a good time soaking up the culture in a strange new land. If only it were so simple. Americans are targets. They have been for a few decades now. We are obvious when we show up in dangerous places and circumstances whether the Internet or the newspaper announces our presence or not. And we've always wanted it that way. Here we are, engaged with you, unafraid of showing our flag. We come in a warship, but we come in Peace. If you are a friend, we are your best friend. If you are a foe, we will blow you to smithereens. Security and liberty; we want both and that's a hard bargain.

1/10/2010 6:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And while we're discussing security (among other things) let's advertise to the world the coming capabilities gap the submarine force expects to see in the near future. Talk about doing more with less! Read all about it (and don't miss the chart behind the picture of the Va-class boat):

1/10/2010 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gone are the days of 100 attack boats and 41 boomers...

1/10/2010 11:00 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Gone too the days of needing 100 attack boats and 41 boomers...

1/10/2010 3:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1/10 10:58 - it would be pretty hard to hide from the world how many attack submarines the Navy has. And by disclosing the forecasted number - beyond the fact that simple math will give you a pretty close guess - if someone wants to wait until after 2022 to do something because that's when we go below 48, well, OK. An article such as this has one primary purpose - to ensure the Congress and the citizenry understand the necessity of reaching and maintaining a 2 per year build rate for SSNs. It's worth it. Joel - it's a pretty good article - may be worth a separate post.

1/10/2010 8:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/11/2010 11:03 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

(sigh)...for the simple days when we just had to shred all our personal mail, address labels, etc. Don't think for one second that if they could get away with it, they wouldn't try it ANYWHERE in the world, not just the Middle East. And considering that topside defenses are, to say the least, not nearly as imposing as that of a surface ship, pretty much anyone can and will find out as much as they want from PAO releases, etc...

And I thought it was bad showing up in the PI and the stevedores knew where and when we'd be for the remaining five months of Westpac.

1/11/2010 8:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being married to a submariner, I can't name the number of times I've seen or heard this very discussion take place at FSG/FRG meetings, on wives and girlfriend's Facebook groups. There are always those warning not to give out information and always those who feel they should be able to judge for themselves what info to pass along and to whom. And there are always those who are fed up with being badgered by family and friends, and even complete strangers for information.

Someone always makes the argument that a port visit isn't classified once the boat has arrived. Someone else feels they can judge the character of the friend or family member they'd share with.

Most of us remember well the attacks on 9/11, but it seems there is a disconnect between that horrible day and any possible threat to our sailors. Not nearly as many of us (admittedly this includes myself) were part of the active Navy at the time of the USS Cole attack. But in my book the threat is, and will continue to be very real.

As wives we have access to alot of information that we wouldn't otherwise have. I refuse to give someone else a hand up in any danger that could possibly ever face my husband. As wives we have enough to deal with in taking care of our families back at home, and 'holding the fort' while our husbands are gone. And the wives I know are incredibly strong and resilient...but personally, I don't know how I'd ever continue that if it came to the day that I knew my husband wasn't going to be coming back home.

The danger is there. It is real. And yes, there are way too many venues in which the wrong people can get the right information to destroy alot of lives and alot of families. I do not have control over over what the Navy chooses to publicize. I do have control over the information that I spread through conversations, emails, letters, and posts.

Bottom line, if (heaven forbid) anything happened to any of the boats my husband is on, or any of our friends...I'd sit back and there any possible way someone may have gotten that critical piece of information from me? And would I be able to live with the guilt at that possibility? I'd much rather have piece-of-mind in that.

1/17/2010 1:40 PM

Blogger Anand Kumar said...

Please visit once.
EngageIn is a Social Networking website in which you can send free sms to any part in india. You can find friends, relatives on EngageIn. Youtube Upload. Jukebox and Music Download

1/29/2010 11:51 PM

Blogger Anand Kumar said...

Please visit once.
EngageIn is a Social Networking website in which you can send free sms to any part in india. You can find friends, relatives on EngageIn. Youtube Upload. Jukebox and Music Download

1/29/2010 11:52 PM

Blogger Transcend said...

Great post, alot of people who use Social Networking
have the misconception thinkingh that you have to always be online to benefit from them.

6/12/2010 1:42 PM


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