The 77th Brigade is Britain’s answer to the threat posed by online terrorists. Composed of as many as 1,500 full and part time personnel the Brigade’s function is to provide an alternative means to combating terrorism and extremism across the globe without having to put soldiers on the ground or drones in the air.
The Brigade is comprised of experts in the fields of psychological operations, media information operations and the stabilisation support group. The Brigade will utilize the online world including social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to inhibit the influence of extremist factions on impressionable people.
The Brigade can then retaliate against extremists in a “soft” way which involves coercing the likely targets for recruitment to a more neutral or even anti-extremist stance. A “hard” response could then be actually taking down the site/page that they discover is spreading extremist propaganda. There is also a reconnaissance element to the force by using the online services the extremists use to monitor the passing of information in order to build up a more complete picture of extremist operations.
In-effect the hearts-and-minds war is now digital.
Speaking at Chatham House on Monday, General Sir Nicholas Carter said;
“Maneuver is now multidimensional. It started being two-dimensional with fire and movement. We introduced a third dimension with air and artillery. We moved through maneuver in the electromagnetic spectrum and we now find ourselves in an era of information maneuver.”