SOLDIERS OF THE SOCIAL AGE

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This weekend, it was revealed that The British Army is creating a special force of around 1,500 soldiers to be based in Hermitage, Berkshire.

Just as I braced myself for a rise in the number of army recruitment adverts in between my nightly TV picks, I read on to discover that the force won’t require an influx of new soldiers, as it’ll be formed of units drawn from across the military.

The 77th Brigade – dubbed “Facebook warriors” by the media – will be responsible for what’s described as ‘non-lethal warfare’; they’ll be skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional combat in the digital age.

The public is armed with 24-hour access to news, smartphones and social media, all of which are crammed with articles and propaganda attempting to influence internet users. It’s for this reason that the team is being formed to attempt to control the narrative.

The 77th Brigade will formally come into force in April and, personally, I can’t understand why this hasn’t been done sooner.

Both the Israeli and US armies already engage heavily in social media and there have been numerous reports of terrorist groups exploiting social media to attract fighters from around the world. This demonstrates how important it is for the British army to respond to meet the challenges of modern conflict.

The Brigade will include full-time soldiers and reservists, with recruitment set to begin in the spring. Journalism skills and familiarity with social media are among the desired skills.

Social media allows organisations to connect with an audience that they wouldn’t normally have access to, on a scale that wasn’t previously possible. I’m hopeful that the 77th Brigade will bring a significant level of flexibility to the military’s communications, with a hugely positive effect.

SOPHIE

@sophiemarygreen

@peppertweets