Army 101 / Deployment

OPSEC lessons: Candy Code Calendar

OPSEC is one of my least favorite parts of military life. As a top-tier control freak, the amount of information (e.g. travel dates and details) Jonathan holds back in the name of operations security is migraine-inducing. (Although honestly I think he sometimes uses OPSEC as an excuse not to feed my TOTALLY WARRANTED ANXIETY ABOUT EVERYTHING. How dare he try to curb my worrying. I can quit anytime I want.)

I’ve come to understand that what I might have seen as “careless spontaneity” in military life is not an optional disposition; you have to fly by the seat of your pants because the army has control of your pants, and at any moment can decide you’re done with that pair and it’s time for some new, more useful trousers. Maybe bell-bottoms! Those could come back in style anytime. But in order not to compromise the safety and integrity of your new bell-bottoms, you’ll have to wander around pants-less for a bit until the new pair arrives. I hope you didn’t go commando today.

As the pants come and go, I’ve relied on hinted communications from Jonathan that help me guess when I should expect to hear from him, or when a sudden cut of all communication shouldn’t worry me to the point of vomiting. I’d like to think deployments are like big, tactical games of covert charades: Movie. Two Words. First Word. Two Syllables. Sounds like…big explosion? …Bomb? Bigger bomb…nuclear bomb? Keep going?…Nuclear warhead…uhhh…Nuclear fission?Ā NUCLEAR FISSION! Fission? Fission sounds like…precision…condition…permission…mission? Mission? Mission Impossible? YOU’RE GOING ON A MISSION! Okay talk to you in a week love you.

With one deployment under our belts and the second one winding down, I’ve gotten more astute to the subtle hints of timeline. By which I mean that, when charades isn’t cutting it, I’ve memorized nearly every important date in Jonathan’s family in case he should mention his tentative departure is “around my dad’s birthday.” Having even a give-or-take-a-few-weeks idea of a timeline makes me feel much less exposed while wandering around half-naked, waiting for my bell-bottoms.

The problem with this system is that sometimes there is no corresponding birthday or anniversary that matches his general timeline. To remedy this, I’ve created a reliable and delicious calendar that Jonathan and I can reference, and always have a code:

The Candy Code Calendar: Use Your Sweet Tooth to Stomach OPSEC

I did some research and, thanks to, discovered that there is a national or international day each year to rejoice in dozens of the celebrated ways we consume our sugar. Using the candy days as codes, you’ll always have a set frame of reference when timelines are vague.

Candy Calendar Jan-Apr

Candy Calendar May-Aug

Candy Calendar Sept-Dec

Candy Code Calendar Key

Candy Key Jan-Mar

Candy Key Apr-Jun

Candy Key Jul-Sept

Candy Key Oct-Dec

So the next time Jonathan tells me to keep National White Chocolate Day free, I’ll know to expect something in late September. And I should hope so, because it turns out our wedding is planned for National White Chocolate Day. Chocolate’s always trying to steal my thunder.

P.S. By putting this calendar on social media, I realize that I’ve completely defeated the purpose of OPSEC. I’m new at this.

Do you have a special way of communicating with your loved ones that leaves others baffled, or thinking you’re a bit insane?

15 thoughts on “OPSEC lessons: Candy Code Calendar

  1. Hahahahaha, I just love that the calendar has to be as specific as to say that chocolate week is AMERICAN chocolate week. Like, the calendar gods know that America is fully of choco-lovin’ fatties, and that we do, in fact, need an entire week to celebrate it.

    I have no idea how you handle the constant stress of not knowing… everything! Not knowing is the bane of my existence! It’s why I”m constantly reading spoilers for movies and TV shows on Wikipedia… okay, so actually for that very reason it’s probably the bane of Sean’s existence. Love you, can’t wait until Jonathan is stateside once more and then you and I can Facetime from Ft. Campbell and he can see that I really do live up to the probable amounts of crazy that have been relayed to him.

    • I keep forgetting that the majority of my friends aren’t going to meet Jonathan until our wedding. I plan to quiz him on names afterward. I will have a flashcard with your face on it.

  2. We use family dates, too. During this last deployment, I was told “about a week before my brother’s birthday”. It was great in preparing for his homecoming!

  3. I’m a Navy kiddo, so I’m familiar with coded hints! My mom and dad had a code in which my dad would call home from wherever he was stationed and my mom would ask my dad what he was going to have for dinner that night. If he said tuna fish, he wasn’t going to be home for a while. If he said steak, we’d see him soon.

  4. What an amazing idea šŸ™‚ We have been playing the birthday game around here too…blah. Honestly the worst part I think. But yeah for getting to play the game, even without pants.

  5. Interesting how National Candy Cane Day is the day after Christmas. Clearly it’s the calendar lords telling everyone to stuff their faces with the peppermint treat before the candy melts into its expired state. I kind of wish that it was in May or June when candy canes are so sparse. It would create a panic due to the shortage.

  6. Oh my goodness, thank you SO MUCH for that paragraph on being pants-less. (And for allowing me to use that sentence.) I don’t think I’ve related to anything more in this blog than I have to the paragraph on being pants-less. (Also, thank you for allowing me to use THAT sentence.) Hang in there! I can’t wait to read the first blog entry after he comes back šŸ™‚

  7. My fiance and I have a word-to-food conversion list because things always seem better when you refer to them as food. He calls me Chocolate because he’s never seen anyone under 300 pounds eat as much chocolate as I do. I call him Popi Peaches because of a very long and silly joke between us. My butt (which of course is a separate entity in his eyes) is either a jelly donut or a pack of Reese’s Cups, depending on what kind of sweets I’m sending its way at the moment. The puppy is a mudpie. The bed is an oven (though hopefully we won’t be baking any baby donuts in there anytime soon..). The list continues, but most of them are NSFW.

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