National Security

British Army Creates Social Media Warfare Unit

The British Army is to engage in social media warfare, according to an announcement by its top commander.

“We need to develop our asymmetric edge and bring focus to the orchestration of intelligence, information operations, cyber, electronic warfare and unconventional warfare,” Lieutenant General Ivan Jones, the commander of Britain’s field army, said as he announced the formation of a cyber warfare unit to fight “above and below the threshold of conventional conflict.”

The United Kingdom’s new special cyber operations unit, 6 Division (6 Div), will move beyond the typical cyber capabilities within the military sphere, i.e. dealing with traditional cyber attacks, and digital surveillance. The new unit will instead delve into a new form of online combat: Social media warfare.

This is of course a major addition to Britain’s cyber defense strategy, but hardly comes as a surprise in an age so deeply influenced by Facebook, Twitter, and the other major social media platforms. According to local expert Philip Ingram, a defense analyst who spent years with British Military Intelligence, the new initiative spearheaded by 6 Division “is the first step in the British Army recognizing and countering how the information sphere can be and is weaponized.”

On the top of the list of adversaries in this regard is certainly Russia. Over the past several years, the Russians have turned the dark art of peddling fake news and political propaganda across major social media platforms into a tactic that any reasonable government must view as a national security risk. But Moscow is far from the only concern. The cyber arena attracts many asymmetric actors that would otherwise find it difficult to inflict damage on stronger opponents. Iran, for instance, has almost certainly been systematically engaging in social media-based propaganda as part of building up its cyber repertoire.

The importance of social media in every facet of the modern world is only increasing. No where is this more true than when it comes to national security issues. In time, the social media “front” will become an even more coordinated effort between major partners, including NATO and the United States.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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