The objective of an OPSEC survey is to identify vulnerabilities in friendly operations or activities which, if
exploited by the adversary in a combat environment, will deprive friendly forces of the element of surprise or
otherwise reduce friendly effectiveness. In a noncombat environment, emphasis is placed on denying
information to the adversary which would enable the development of degrading countermeasures that would be
fielded in combat. Actual vulnerabilities of information available to the enemy are identified whenever
possible; however, emphasis is placed upon possible vulnerabilities since actual sources may never be known
completely, or may change undetectably.
The purpose of an OPSEC survey is to provide the friendly commander with a basis for corrective actions
through the identification of critical information sources which are vulnerable to adversary exploitation. There
are various types of corrective action, for example:
Controlling detectable activities (revising procedures so as to eliminate stereotyping, repetitiveness, and
predictability; eliminating or protecting those deviations from the routine which could serve as
indicators of friendly intentions, such as radio silence).
Controlling open source information (revising and enhancing procedures used to protect classified
materials, issuing schedules or notices to mariners at the last moment consistent with effective planning,
withholding public affairs office releases).
Employing military deception (cover to cause the adversary to act in a manner that maintains essential
Disrupting the functioning of technical collection sensors so as to prevent detection of activities.
The scope of the survey should be defined at the start of the planning phase and be limited to manageable
proportions. Limitations will be imposed by geography, time of observation, predicted availability of team
members, funding, and other factors. The scope may have to be revised at a later date to accommodate new
The purpose and scope statements of the survey are used to guide the selection of survey team members. Since
surveys are normally oriented to operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) doctrine calls for the senior member of
the team to be selected from the operations, or equivalent staff of the commander responsible for conducting the
and administration, as well as Cl personnel. Other specialists may be required. Team members must be
brought together early in the planning phase to ensure timely and thorough accomplishment of the tasks to be
outlined later in this lesson.
A letter or message of authorization will be issued to the team chief from the surveyed unit commander. This
document should state the subject of the survey; the team leader and members; as well as when the survey will
be conducted. Commands and activities to be visited may also be listed, with the notation that the team may
visit other locations, if required.
While the advantages of designating survey team members with previous survey experience are obvious, the
experience will often not be available. In such cases, familiarization with survey techniques, particularly those
related to preparation of functional outlines and data collection, are required in preparation for subsequent
The foreign intelligence threat to the activities to be surveyed must be evaluated carefully and findings must be
developed in the light of known/probable threat. This coordinated development is essential, since the value of