A new British Army unit will embrace web-enabled psyops and cyber-warfare to fight against the message of groups such as ISIS in cyberspace.
The 77th Brigade is due to launch in April with 1,500 personnel, including regular soldiers, sailors and airmen as well as part-time reservists. Desirable skills for would-be recruits include familiarity with journalism and social media, according to the Guardian.
The unit will adopt the old brigade number and insignia of the Chindits – the British Army's 77th Indian Infantry Brigade of World War II fame. They were an airborne British guerrilla force that operated behind enemy lines against the Japanese in Burma during WWII.
The modern-day 77th Brigade will be tasked with influencing public opinion as well as countering claims by extremist groups such as ISIS. The cyber-Chindits are being established in recognition of the shifting scope of 21st century conflict.
77th 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.
The British Army is following a path already trodden by propaganda units of the Israel Defence Force and others, The Guardian adds. Both Iran and North Korea are also known to maintain online propaganda units.
GCHQ has reportedly developed techniques to boost the prominence of "sock-puppet" commentary in online forum and newspaper website discussions, so the cyber-Chindits will have a body of experience to draw from in its battle to win hearts and minds and counter jihadist propaganda. ®