Information protection connects with core values

  • Published
  • By Jeff Jeghers
  • Installation OPSEC program manager
Every day it seems the news is filled with a variety of stories about official information making its way out of appropriate channels and onto the world's stage. Coupled with that is the constant reminder that others, our adversaries, want desperately to acquire our information as well.

To the surprise of many who have forgotten our Cold War past, two individuals were recently arrested in Cambridge, Mass., and were said to have been conducting espionage against our nation. They're gone now.

The list of examples is long and will undoubtedly continue to grow into the future, hastened by expanding social networking outlets and perhaps an over reliance on the Internet itself. Although these times are challenging, we are no stranger to them, and we will continue to serve our nation with distinction.

Protecting information is explicitly connected to our Air Force core values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Each Air Force member knows them and should understand very clearly how these values relate to the topic of safeguarding our information.

Integrity first, our first core value, sets the basic foundation from which your very access to our information comes. It means you are trustworthy, and consistently so. It means you have the courage to handle our information correctly all the time, even when alone and especially when the pressure is on to meet a suspense. It also means you're accountable when you make a mistake if you reasonably knew how to do it correctly and chose not to.

Service before self, our second core value, is the value that tells us our professional duties take precedence over personal desires. Adding sensitive data to a public news article to embellish your own role in an effort to capture an audience's attention is not adhering to this value. Rather, you follow and respect rules -- rules learned by many before us, which offer us a way of avoiding the same mistakes and perhaps saving the lives of our people in the future.

Excellence in all we do, our last core value, does not mean perfection as connected to protecting information, but it does mean that you do strive for it, and you do so every day. It means that as you strive for excellence in community, in acquisition and in whatever specialty you serve, you must also incorporate excellence in protecting our information as well.

Protecting the information our citizens entrust to us is not only an inherent and integral part of our core values, it is also one of the most significant contributions you can make right now to our national security. Being entrusted means that official information it is not ours to disrespect, mistreat or assume we know better than what is authorized in handling it. Entrusted means we have an obligation to those we serve, to those that are deployed and to those that sleep at night knowing we contribute to their safety.

The link between information protection and core values is critically important and applicable to all of us, and this is indisputable.