Military Security Clearance
When you first enter the military and even in a lot of civilian jobs, especially any type of federal job, you will need to acquire a security clearance. The type of security clearance you need to obtain will be based on the job or military occupation you have:
Confidential: This security clearance is one that does not require an FBI investigation, and it is given for as long as you are in the military.
Secret Clearance: This is needed for combat MOS and special forces.
Top Secret: The next level is needed for higher level special forces missions, EOD, MP communications, etc.
Sensitive Compartmentalized Information: This is needed for higher EOD, special forces, and working on nuclear power submarines.
Military Security Clearance Interviews and Investigations
The different types of FBI investigations that are completed depend on the specific MOS or job in addition to any type of criminal or civil violations you might have participated in. The secret clearance may be obtained without a complete FBI investigation and interview. However, at any time for any reason, the FBI may choose to do a complete investigation and interview. The top secret clearance and above will require a complete background check, FBI investigation, interview, and most likely a polygraph test. This background search investigation and the paperwork to obtain it are very lengthy. The check will go back a minimum of 7-10 years, and when I say they’re thorough, I mean it. When I obtained my top secret clearance many years ago, they spoke to neighbors, relatives, and even people I did not know, and the questions were very thorough. They’re going to want to know everything you have done with everyone.
When going through security clearance, the next step is credit history. The FBI has started to take a closer look at credit history, and it is actually declining or taking away security clearances from people whose credit is bad, low, or even tarnished for any reason. The FBI sees the bad credit as a risk for being bribed and divulging secrets and other information that could be a risk of personnel or national security in exchange for money. Several cases in history have shown individuals who have committed security violations because of their financial problems. I urge all military and civilian personnel to protect their credit. If you live beyond your means, you will not be able to obtain a security clearance in the future.
Violating Security Clearance
A security clearance is a valuable tool in being able to obtain great civilian federal jobs and be promoted through the ranks in the military. Violations of your security clearance are extremely serious, and all the information you receive is overwhelming. It is amazing what you hear while overseas sitting in a DFAC: everything from mission dates and times to mission operations to what personnel will be on the mission. Then we also have social media. So much information is divulged through social media today that it is ridiculous, like pictures of areas or equipment. Then there are emails. We all have seen or heard stories of the individuals who recently released many emails obtaining confidential information. I have told my soldiers and trained them that unless information is given through a specific military email or intranet, don’t discuss it. If you think the internet overseas is secure, well, I can guarantee that it is not! It is simple to protect the information you have; just don’t discuss it with anybody except individuals that need to know, who are on the mission, or who have a role in that mission. When you do, only discuss it in private where the information cannot be heard by anybody other than those who are meant to hear it. Then do not send out any emails pertaining to the mission, its personnel, equipment, or times, and this includes anything about deployments, such as dates and locations. The necessary public affairs people who get paid to do this will provide that information at the right place and time.
Protect Privileged Information
The need for security right now is at an all-time high with threats abroad and in the country. Do not put yourselves, your colleagues, your family, or others at risk. I urge you to protect your security clearance no matter what level of clearance you have. The security clearance is a valuable tool and a privilege that can lead to greater responsibilities and financial gain through a better job or higher rank. I will close by relating this old saying, “you’re on a need-to-know basis.” Be careful what you say and where and what and where you post. Be careful with the pictures you post and the people you discuss any privileged information with. If you’re not sure, then do not discuss it. Ask your chain of command first, and this especially pertains to information released to so-called media personnel. Do not ever conduct any interview with anybody if you’re not sure public affairs will know and can help you. To learn more about the military and its security, read more articles on the Voice of a Veteran.