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British Army Setting Up Psychological And Social Media Unit

The British Army is setting up a new unit that will use “psychological operations” and social media to help fight wars.

BBC News reports:

Head of the Army General Sir Nick Carter said the move was about trying to operate “smarter”.

The 77th Brigade, made up of reservists and regular troops and based in Hermitage, Berkshire, will be formally created in April.

It has been inspired by the Chindits who fought in Burma in World War Two.

An Army spokesman said the unit would “play a key part in enabling the UK to fight in the information age” and that it “consists of more than just traditional capabilities”.

He said: “77 Brigade is being created to draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare.

“It recognises that the actions of others in a modern battlefield can be affected in ways that are not necessarily violent and it draws heavily on important lessons from our commitments to operations in Afghanistan amongst others.”

Recruitment for the brigade, which will contain 42% reservist troops, will begin this spring.

Its members will come from the Royal Navy and RAF as well as from the Army.

The unit will also look to find “new ways of allowing civilians with bespoke skills to serve alongside their military counterparts”.

The spokesman said it will share the “spirit of innovation” of the Burma Campaign of 1942 to 1945 and will also use the old Chindit insignia of a Chinthe, a mythical Burmese creature which is half-lion and half-dragon.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said: “The Army says it’s learnt valuable lessons from Afghanistan – not least that it can’t win wars using pure military force alone.

“77 brigade will be made up of warriors who don’t just carry weapons, but who are also skilled in using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and the dark arts of psyops – psychological operations.

“They will try to influence local populations and change behaviour through what the Army calls traditional and unconventional means.

“Civilians with the right skills will work alongside regular troops and reservists and could be sent anywhere in the world to help win hearts and minds.”

He added that the new brigade was also being introduced at a time there are fears within the British military that it could face further cuts following the general election.