MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Sporting a tuxedo with dice pattern lapels, a dice pattern cummerbund and die-shaped cufflinks, Ray Semko, a retired Army veteran and counter-intelligence officer with the Defense Security Service, gave military and civilian department of defense personnel a series of security briefs throughout the first week of October aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Semko uses the acronym D.I.C.E., meaning defensive information to counter espionage, as a memory aid to reinforce the importance of operational security.
“If we do not have national security, then the foundation of what America is would crumble,” said Semko. “We in the [security awareness] business have done a poor job over the decades of trying to sell the importance of security. It was something that we had to address every year, but nobody wanted to put a whole lot of effort behind it.”
After seeing distinct flaws in the way security has been taught and handled, Semko developed the D.I.C.E lecture to present to federal employees and service members.
“What Marines take out of [the presentation] most is: how we train for operational security needs to be reassessed and repaired,” said Semko. “We all have a duty to help this country stay strong, and if Marines have access to information, they need to be very careful about how they speak and what they speak about.”
Even talking and writing about unclassified information can endanger mission accomplishment and threaten national security. An enemy can piece together information gathered from everyday conversation and correspondence to construct the details of entire missions or even military tactics, techniques and procedures.
To help avoid sensitive information spillage, DoD regulations instruct all DoD personnel to participate in annual security awareness training. This usually takes the form of a lesson online.
“If Marines participate in computer-based training and they are given an example that they don’t fully understand in the first place, then the training and the example mean nothing to them,” Semko said.
To help emphasize the scope of national security and the importance of protecting certain information, Semko offers service members and DoD employees the choice to receive this training in a memorable and lively way.
Semko uses entertainment and humor while linking realistic examples and real world events to present-day threats. Even his suit, which resembled a magician’s outfit, is used to point out how visual cues can be misleading in regards to a person’s intentions.
“When Marines participate in this type of lecture they interact more,” said Maj. Mark L. Hobin, the ground ammunition officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). “Marines ask questions, the lecturer tells jokes, and Marines grasp the material better when it’s more fun. It’s our job to make sure that security is upheld. It’s everyone’s job.”
“I want to help Marines with their jobs, but I also want to help Marines and their families survive in this unbelievable world that we’re in right now,” said Semko. “That, to me, is why it is so much more important to have a live lecture rather than computer-based training, but if [the person giving the brief] is as dull as the computer then nobody is going to listen to that either.”