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UK Sets Up Internet-Savvy Army Unit 56

An anonymous reader sends word that the UK Army is establishing a dedicated unit for fighting wars in the information age. The 77th Brigade will specialize in non-lethal, psychological operations that involve the internet and social media. The army says it's learned through its operations in Afghanistan that there are fights to be won not just on the battlefield, but online as well. "In some senses it's defensive - trying to present the case from this side against opponents who hold many of the cards. We've seen with Islamic State, its incredible capability on the net, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest." The new unit will "try to influence local populations and change behavior through what the Army calls traditional and unconventional means." The army also stressed that they're looking for ways that citizens with the right skills could work alongside the 77th Brigade.
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UK Sets Up Internet-Savvy Army Unit

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ah. Now that we're in the internet age the army is taking over the function of the free press.

    • Even though I'm a libertarian and generally oppose this kind of thing, I understand why this is needed.

      Over the last 20 years the landscape of warfare has changed dramatically, probably more so than any other period in history. The age of nation-states waging war against nation-states is largely over. Now we're basically seeing inter-state civil wars. That is, regular civilians picking up arms for a cause not tied to a given state, and declaring war against other civilians that aren't of any specific state.

      • And depending on how things pan out, you might even get to see some of those "freedom terrorists" who insist in defending their liberties against their own government...

      • The age of nation-states waging war against nation-states is largely over

        If this was true, you could reduce the size of the world's armies standing dramatically, not to mention scrapping most Navies and Nuclear Deterrents completely.

        Groups like ISIL are never going to be an existential threat to a country with a moderate police/military presence.

        But somehow, I don't see countries like the US, Russia and China suddenly slashing their defence spending.

  • Shouldn't it be the hundredandeleventyfirst?

  • psyops is old; but we don't need soldiers screwing around with social media when they should be putting ammo on target. Look what decades of screwing around by the CIA brought us

  • They... (Score:4, Funny)

    by drumlight ( 1244276 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @02:31PM (#48947563)
    really need to recruit Private Browsing for this unit.
  • Will it be commanded by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart ?

    • Well, considering what army we're talking about, I think the commanding officer will be General Protection Fault.

  • the British government already has a well established global propaganda unit. See title.

  • They learned the importance of cyber warfare in Afghanistan? My head hurts.

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      Here was I, thinking it was all about dropping ferret bombs down caves, roadside IEDs and suicide bombers... how wrong was I, eh?

      • I'll say this... being a cyberwarrior is probably the best job if you can get it. I mean... the worst that can happen is some LEET HAXOR could PWND you... :P

        So instead of your head popping like a ripe melon because some sniper shot a lead slug through your face... you just get a little nerd rage at the enemy, take another sip of your caffeinated beverage of choice and carry on.

        • the late vilerat would disagree with you as would the HMGC signals guys who got killed in turkey
        • I'll say this... being a cyberwarrior is probably the best job if you can get it. I mean... the worst that can happen is some LEET HAXOR could PWND you... :P

          If it's anything like in the US, the idea of being cyberwarrior is also a great recruitment strategy (where recruitment has become damn impossible otherwise). Once you sign on the dotted line, you can be transferred to any other duty and you won't be able to do anything about it.

    • Every war these days depends on public opinion, both local and foreign. Without it, there are no recruits and there is no funding. If you can eliminate those, you've disposed of a lot of potential enemy combatants without bloodshed.
      • What you said is certainly true, and has been for a long time. Now, psyops is even more important. The US and UK could have turned Iraqi cities into glass parking lots very quickly, if they decided to do mass bombings like WWII. Germany had serious air defenses, yet the allies utterly destroyed large sections of major cities. Undefended Iraqi cities would be like bombing fish in a barrel. Destroying the enemy is no longer considered an allowable goal, though. The new goal is to persuade the general po

        • "if they decided to do mass bombings like WWII."

          The policies of Bomber Harris were shown to make enemy soldiers even more determined when they found out about them - and the primary reason for carpet bombing was to take out manufacturing facilities in an era where "precise" bombing was "within a mile or so", against an enemy using more-or-less traditional warfare.

          "You don't win friends by exploding them"

          That's something that the USA needs to learn in spades. The best terrorist recruiting tool around is a bo

        • Unlike Germany and Japan in WW2, Iraq posed zero threat to the US and UK in the first place.

          We were supposedly liberating the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and his circle of evil, not trying to defeat a whole country.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        The reality is of course the propaganda is not about getting rid of the selected targets it is all about making publicly acceptable the idea of getting rid of the targets by what ever means you happen to choose. So burning them alive with white phosphorous is acceptable as long as you can get away with it by convincing those who would judge your actions.

        Basically yet another government agencies is purposefully setting out to commit electoral fraud and should be charged with a crime. It is illegal for gov

    • They learned the importance of cyber warfare in Afghanistan? My head hurts.

      Sometimes differently-abled learners cope best in classrooms with a less demanding curriculum adapted to their needs...

    • They learned the importance of cyber warfare in Afghanistan? My head hurts.

      If it hadn't been for those pesky Taliban hackers we'd have won a glorious victory!

  • somehow I think there is a huge divide here between "right skills" being "I am a Wikileaks poster" and "I have all your passwords and financial records, did you do anything to piss me off today?"

  • We've seen with Islamic State, its incredible capability on the net, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest.

    Doesn't this describe just about every 12-year-old in a first world country? Knowing how to use Facebook and Instagram is hardly the hallmark of "incredible capability" on the internet.

    • A large part of it is that we like to portray ISIL, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest as primitives, so we over-estimate their "cyber skills" because we expect them to treat a computer like a gorilla would treat a Lamborghini.
  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @04:52PM (#48948333)

    In honor of the WWII 79th Armoured Division, that contained all the special purpose vehicles that were so useful during D-Day and beyond.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • But I hear all they use it for is retweets.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Saturday January 31, 2015 @07:47PM (#48949099)

    ... propaganda.

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      So, are you saying it's a bad thing? What's your point? Should IS be allowed to spread all the propaganda it wants and the West not be allowed to counter it because propaganda is bad (but only if the West does it) or what?

      • You should counter propaganda with the truth, not more propaganda.

        We should not be treating these groups as though they're a threat to our very existence, requiring us to set aside all our values. But it's probably too late for that.

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