Operations Security

OPSEC entails all measures taken by the company team to deny the enemy information about its actions and intentions. It covers a variety of procedures and precautions. This appendix focuses on general security measures; measures taken to ensure information security, signal security, and physical security; and employment of OPs.


Section 1 General Security Measures
Section 2 Information Security
Section 3 Signal Security
Section 4 Physical Security
Section 5 Observation Posts
Selection of the OP Site
Mounted OPs
Dismounted OPs


Maneuver units use general security measures to protect against surprise, observation, and infiltration. The following considerations and procedures will assist the company team in executing general security measures:

  • Enforce noise and light discipline. Follow these procedures:
  • - If feasible, turn off the circuit breaker for the brake lights.

    - Dim or cover all sources of light in the turret. Use a passive night observation device to check vehicles for light leaks before operations begin.

    - Move personnel and/or vehicles only when necessary.

    - Use headsets or the CVC helmet to monitor the radio; do not use the radioís external speakers.

    - Do not slam hatches.

    - Use short-count procedures to start engines simultaneously.

    - Use terrain to mask resupply and maintenance areas.

    - Use hand-and-arm signals and digital communications whenever possible.

    - Do not allow smoking outdoors at night.

  • Use camouflage to best advantage. Follow these procedures:
  • - Place vegetation on vehicles to break up their "profile."

    - Drape camouflage nets over gun tubes and turrets.

    - Park vehicles in natural concealment, such as shadows.

    - Cover all headlights and optics whenever possible.

    - Consider the effects of dust and exhaust smoke when moving.

    - Minimize track, tire, and foot trails that could be detected from the air or from enemy positions.

    - Drive vehicles in previously made tracks when possible.

    - In heavily used areas such as CPs and trains, ensure vehicles travel on existing tracks or roadways.

  • Maintain effective concealment. Follow these procedures:
  • - Disperse vehicles and personnel under foliage or inside structures whenever possible.

    - Conceal vehicles and personnel behind objects that block the thermal "line of sight" of enemy devices.

    - Protect vehicles in hide positions against aerial observation by minimizing or eliminating their thermal signatures.

  • Use challenge and password. Employ this procedure as specified in the OPORD or unit SOP.


Information security is the protection of all materials, both classified and unclassified, that may be of intelligence value to the enemy. The following procedures will assist the company team in maintaining information security:

  • Ensure that soldiers do not send critical information through the mail. This includes unit identification, location, and capabilities; the commanderís name; and information on combat losses or morale.
  • Keep unauthorized personnel out of the company teamís area of operations.
  • Before leaving an area, police it to make sure items of intelligence value are not left behind.


The discussions of communications and COMSEC in Chapter 2 of this manual outline considerations and procedures for establishing and maintaining effective signal security.


Physical security is the protection of materiel and equipment. The following considerations and procedures will help the company team to maintain effective physical security:

  • When stationary, employ antiintrusion devices, such as the platoon early warning system (PEWS), trip flares, and concertina wire.
  • Maintain the prescribed REDCON status, and execute designated stand-to procedures at specified times.
  • Do not allow foreign nationals and unauthorized observers in or near the unitís area or positions during operations. In accordance with the applicable ROE, ROI, and company team commanderís intent, establish procedures for handling civilian intruders.
  • Employ OPs to maintain surveillance on avenues of approach into the teamís area of operations.
  • Employ mounted and/or dismounted patrols as necessary.
  • Establish reporting and inspection SOPs for personnel and sensitive items.


OPs are an especially important element of the company teamís effort to establish and maintain OPSEC. They provide protection when long-range observation from current positions is not possible; this can occur when the team is in a hide position or when close terrain offers concealed avenues of approach to its position. The team can employ any number of OPs, either mounted or dismounted, as the situation dictates.


Before deploying OPs, the company team commander analyzes the terrain in his sector. He also coordinates with the teamís subordinate leaders and with adjacent units to develop effective procedures for observing the assigned area of responsibility and eliminating gaps in observation between adjacent units.

Next, based on requirements for early warning and security, the commander decides which type of OP (mounted and/or dismounted) to employ and selects the best available location. A key consideration is the amount of reaction time the company team will require based on its current REDCON status. After selecting the type(s) of OPs and their locations, the commander should brief the company team OP plan to his subordinate leaders and coordinate the plan with commanders of adjacent units as necessary.

To be most effective, OPs should have the following characteristics:

  • Clear fields of observation covering the assigned area or sector. OPs must be positioned to allow the company team to observe locations (such as the forward slope of a hill or dismounted avenues of approach) that it cannot see from current positions.
  • Overlapping coverage and mutual support. Ideally, the fields of observation of adjacent OPs and/or units will overlap to ensure full coverage of the sector.
  • Effective cover and concealment. Positions with natural cover and concealment help to reduce the vulnerability of OPs to enemy observation and attack.
  • Covered and concealed routes to and from the position. Soldiers must be able to enter and leave their OPs without being seen and engaged by the enemy.
  • A location that will not attract enemy attention. The commander should avoid sites that would logically be the target of enemy observation or that could serve as artillery TRPs.
  • A location that does not skyline observers. In selecting OP sites, the commander should avoid hilltops. The OPs should be positioned farther down the slope of the hill.
  • A location that is within range of supporting small arms fire. This enables the company team to cover OP personnel and vehicles if withdrawal becomes necessary.


Mounted OPs are used when the company team, or subordinate elements, have access to hull-down or turret-down positions that afford unobstructed surveillance of mounted avenues of approach in the unitís sector. This type of OP allows the commander to take advantage of his vehiclesí capabilities: magnified thermal and daylight optics, sophisticated communications, lethal weapon systems, and survivability.

A common mounted OP technique, executed at the platoon level, has one vehicle positioned forward to observe an engagement area or obstacle while the remainder of the platoon occupies hide positions. Even when the mounted OP has clear fields of observation, it is advisable to dismount one or two members of the crew to provide close-in local security for the vehicle. The dismounted crewmen occupy positions far enough away that sounds from the vehicle do not prevent them from hearing an approaching enemy. Local security can also be enhanced by employment of infantry, which can conduct patrols and occupy dismounted OPs in accordance with the commanderís OPSEC plan.


Whenever the company team must halt and occupy vehicle positions from which the terrain impedes observation or early warning of enemy activities, it should employ dismounted OPs to provide local security along dismounted avenues of approach. Dismounted OPs also augment or replace mounted OPs based on requirements in the commanderís OPSEC plan. Platoons will normally emplace dismounted OPs as directed by the commander. Refer to FM 7-7J and FM 17-15 for a discussion of dismounted OPs.