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Saturday, 31 January 2015

New British Army unit 'Brigade 77' to use Facebook and Twitter in psychological warfare

The Independent 

The British military is setting up a specialist force modelled on the Chindits, the commandos who gained renown through their daring missions behind enemy lines in Burma during the Second World War. 

They will specialise in "non-lethal" forms of psychological warfare, using social media including Facebook and Twitter to "fight in the information age".

The Chief of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter, believes that the radical new plan is essential to face the “asymmetric” battlefields of the 21st century, where tactics and strategies differ significantly between enemies, such as with Isis. Key lessons, he says, can be learned from the campaign carried out against the Japanese by Allied troops using unconventional tactics seven decades ago.

The 2,000-strong brigade will have the same number, 77, and the same emblem – of a Chindit, a mythical Burmese beast – as the one under Brigadier Orde Wingate. But, as well as being ready for combat, the troops will be armed with modern skill sets including being adept in social media and new technology.

One of the key reasons behind the successful operations of the Chindits was the support they received from the local population against the Japanese forces. General Carter holds believes the winning of “hearts and minds” has never been more important.

Senior officers hold that a range of current conflicts, from Iraq to Ukraine, have shown how the information war is as vital as the ones fought with weapons. The brigade, which will be formally unveiled in April with headquarters at Hermitage, near Newbury in Berkshire, will be responsible for all “non-lethal deployment” of the UK military abroad. 

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