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British Army '15 PsyOp' Chicksands & 'Brigade 77'

 
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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:13 pm    Post subject: British Army '15 PsyOp' Chicksands & 'Brigade 77' Reply with quote

Army's new Brigade 77 to reinforce 2005 7/7 London Bombings false flag online
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/return-of-the-chindits- mod-reveals-cunning-defence-plan-10014608.html
Cyberwar cyberpunk psyop psychological warfare

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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."


Last edited by Whitehall_Bin_Men on Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:18 pm    Post subject: British Army '15 PsyOp' Chicksands & 'Brigade 77' Reply with quote

PSYOPS generally delivers its ‘munitions’ in the form of information and ideas, aimed at attacking loyalties, hatreds, fears and misconceptions. PSYOPS aims to break down cohesion by undermining the moral and intellectual links between hostile leaders and their followers, leaving them unwilling to respond or fight effectively. Creating the perception in the adversary’s mind that the achievement of his end state is impossible, and attempts to do so will be costly, is fundamentally a psychological activity aimed at creating the perception of his own defeat; In this way PSYOPS, allied to credible force, may even render conflict unnecessary. Dissemination of PSYOPS messages through the written or spoken word,symbology and other visual imagery can all be used singly or in combination, in leaflets, printed articles, radio and TV broadcasts, face to face engagement, the Internet, text messaging and loudspeakers.

15 Psycological Warfare group in Chicksands Bedfordshire

15 psyops annual report wrote:
The purpose of PSYOPS is to influence the perceptions,attitudes and behaviour of individuals or groups of people (the Target Audience) causing them to act in a manner that supports the achievement of the Commander’s end-state. This may take weeks, months or even years to implement and achieve. The crucial difference between PSYOPS and most other military activities is that the resultant behaviour of the Target Audience is ultimately consensual. Thus, PSYOPS has the potential to produce enduring results, particularly in the area of conflict prevention and resolution. Whilst coercion is definitely a psychological activity that may lead to short -term effect, once the coercion is removed protagonists might revert to their previous behaviour pattern. By contrast, successful PSYOPS is more subtle and leads to a change in perception, attitude or behaviour. When employed wisely, PSYOPS can lower enemy morale by creating doubts, dissidence and disaffection within its ranks or can provide the means to understand, communicate with and influence the Target Audience. Specifically targeted, PSYOPS can weaken the will of the enemy, reinforce the support of the loyal and gain the support of the uncommitted.

http://www.psywar.org/psywar/reproductions/15POG_Annual_Report_2008.pd f

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Privatising Psycological Operations: British Army Psychological Warfare officers from 15 PsyOps (Chicksands, Beds.) headhunted by private Strategic Communications companies who pay them approximately twenty times more. Prince Andrew’s Private Secretary working for Bell Pottinger who represent despotic regimes such as Sri-Lanka & Bahrain. Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia today. Assassination of fifth Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan in Tehran. Bradley Stoke resident Lesley Cox & Martin Farmer discuss BAe Systems’ plan to close Filton airfield and sell it off for housing despite site’s history and future need for aerospace industry in the city. Are the public concerned that Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti is a Freemason? BBC Southern Eye documentary ‘Anything To Declare’ (2000) shows Local Government Ombudsman taking stern view of freemasons failing to delare their masonic interest, using their votes to grant planning permission to masons in the same lodge. Look at CERN near Geneva and the Higgs boson ‘God particle’ with mathematician and system analyst and editor of victims unite website Sabine McNeill FRSA.
http://bcfm.org.uk/2012/01/13/17/friday-drivetime-54/13525
http://radio4all.net/index.php/program/57021

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http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post as ever Shoestring.
There must be some study somewhere about the psychological warfare aspect to this.
These various films leave a subconscious 'imprint' in our minds and when the events happen we are potentially more inclined to 'recognise' and 'believe' later staged events when they happen.
Could even be some mileage in questioning all those involved in these 'prescient' films as potentially complicit in later criminal events.
Study might possibly have been privately commissioned by Strategic Communications Labs or similar but these evil private entities often bamboozle the public sector - ie universities or the military to pay for such things.

Strategic Communication Laboratories
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Strategic_Communication_Lab oratories

The 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group is a Territorial Army support Group for the British Army specialising in psyops or Psychological Operations. It was set up in 1998. It is based in Chicksands, Bedfordshire at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre.
http://wikispooks.com/wiki/15_(UK)_Psychological_Operations_Group

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http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jolly, a former instructor with the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group, is keen to see a greater emphasis on this kind of in-house news-gathering, in which material is channelled through the open gateway of digital communication and social media.
http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/sep/11/ministry-of-de fence-war-reporting?CMP=twt_gu

The shake-up will now see the MOG sharing its training facilities with 15 (UK) Psyops under the banner of the newly-formed Security Assistance Group (cue another odd acronym, SAG).

Both the MOG and 15 (UK) Psyops have moved into Denison Barracks in the Berkshire village of Hermitage, their offices just yards apart. This is all part of Jolly's plan for greater co-operation between the two groups, sharing expertise in the field of content creation.

This approach is not without its detractors. Traditionally, the two worlds of the MOG and Psyops have existed in separate universes, the former being expected to deal in the honest-to-goodness truth, the latter being more closely associated – fairly or unfairly – with the "dark arts", usually directing its material at an enemy's audience....

TonyGosling wrote:
Privatising Psycological Operations: British Army Psychological Warfare officers from 15 PsyOps (Chicksands, Beds.) headhunted by private Strategic Communications companies who pay them approximately twenty times more. Prince Andrew’s Private Secretary working for Bell Pottinger who represent despotic regimes such as Sri-Lanka & Bahrain. Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia today. Assassination of fifth Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan in Tehran. Bradley Stoke resident Lesley Cox & Martin Farmer discuss BAe Systems’ plan to close Filton airfield and sell it off for housing despite site’s history and future need for aerospace industry in the city. Are the public concerned that Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti is a Freemason? BBC Southern Eye documentary ‘Anything To Declare’ (2000) shows Local Government Ombudsman taking stern view of freemasons failing to delare their masonic interest, using their votes to grant planning permission to masons in the same lodge. Look at CERN near Geneva and the Higgs boson ‘God particle’ with mathematician and system analyst and editor of victims unite website Sabine McNeill FRSA.
http://bcfm.org.uk/2012/01/13/17/friday-drivetime-54/13525
http://radio4all.net/index.php/program/57021

_________________
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www.v911t.org
www.thisweek.org.uk
www.abolishwar.org.uk
www.elementary.org.uk
www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149
http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All this utter BS about the Chindits has been lapped up by the G and the I.
Exactly what Brigade 77 has been set up to do.
As for the BS reason for using 77 as the number.
Nothing to do with reinforcing all the lies around the 7/7 London Bombings and working closely with the Israeli Army - whose criminal Verint Systems company contracted to work for the London Underground is IMPLICATED as a 7/7 attack vector ..... of course!


It is also hoped the new brigade will ‘control the narrative’ during conflicts.
http://metro.co.uk/2015/02/01/british-army-forms-new-brigade-to-combat -social-media-warfare-5044957/?

British army creates team of Facebook warriors
Soldiers familiar with social media sought for 77th Brigade, which will be responsible for ‘non-lethal warfare’
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-w arriors-77th-brigade
Ewen MacAskill, defence correspondent Saturday 31 January 2015 11.48 GMT
The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age.
The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army. It will formally come into being in April.
The brigade will be responsible for what is described as non-lethal warfare. Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations.
Against a background of 24-hour news, smartphones and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the force will attempt to control the narrative.
The 77th will include regulars and reservists and recruitment will begin in the spring. Soldiers with journalism skills and familiarity with social media are among those being sought.
An army spokesman said: “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 move is partly a result of experience in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. It can also be seen as a response to events of the last year that include Russia’s actions in Ukraine, in particular Crimea, and Islamic State’s (Isis) takeover of large swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Nato has so far been unable to find a counter to what the US and UK claim is Russia creating unrest by sending in regular troops disguised as local militia, allowing president Vladimir Putin to deny responsibility.Isis has proved adept at exploiting social media to attract fighters from around the world.
The Israel Defence Forces have pioneered state military engagement with social media, with dedicated teams operating since Operation Cast Lead, its war in Gaza in 2008-9. The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages. “It enables us to engage with an audience we otherwise wouldn’t reach,” said an Israeli army spokesman.
It has been approached by several western countries, keen to learn from its expertise.
During last summer’s war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, the IDF and Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, tweeted prolifically, sometimes engaging directly with one another.
The new brigade is being named the 77th in tribute to the Chindits, the British guerrilla force led by Maj Gen Orde Wingate against the Japanese in Burma during the second world war. Wingate adopted unorthodox and controversial tactics that achieved successes completely disproportionate to the size of his forces, sending teams deep into Japanese-held territory, creating uncertainty in the Japanese high command and forcing it to alter its strategic plans.
In a nod to the Chindits, members of the 77th Brigade will have arm badges showing a mythical Burmese creature.
The aim is that the new force will prove as flexible as the Chindits in the face of the dizzying array of challenges being thrown up in the early part of this century.
The creation of 77th Brigade comes as the commander of Nato special operations headquarters, Lt Gen Marshall Webb, speaking in Washington this week, expressed concern about Russia and about Isis.
“Special operations headquarters is uniquely placed to address this,” he said. “We tend to take an indirect approach. We can engage without being escalatory or aggressive. We tend to view things from an oblique angle, and we absolutely acknowledge that trust, information-sharing and interagency collaboration is crucial.”

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New Army cyber warriors allowed long hair
Highly skilled cyber specialists are being granted individual exemptions from rules on appearance
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12203745/New-Army-cyber-warrior s-allowed-long-hair.html?sf23196154=1
By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent
5:46PM GMT 26 Mar 2016
Highly skilled cyber specialists are being granted exemptions from normal military appearance rules, in an attempt to attract experts who might otherwise be put off joining up.

It is a departure from standards that might ordinarily drive sergeant majors into a fury.

But in the race to find cyber warfare soldiers to help wage hi-tech conflict, specialist recruits are being given a waiver from normal military regulations and allowed to have long hair, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Highly skilled cyber specialists are being granted individual exemptions from rules on appearance in an attempt to attract computer experts who may otherwise be put off from joining up.

The special measure is being taken because of the difficulties attracting much sought after “geeks” to the new cyber reserve which is critical for the military’s plans to wage war on the new digital front lines.

Commanders keen to recurit specialist expertise for 21st century warfare are also considering exemptions for reservist cultural advisers, linguists, intelligence analysts and criminal investigators.

Commanders have already revealed that the Army’s new cyber warriors will not need to pass military fitness tests and will not deploy abroad, or bear arms.

But the special treatment has caused resentment among traditionalists and among some regular soldiers.

One military source said soldiers at a base in the South West had last week been angered by the sight of two Royal Signals cyber reservists in uniform with shoulder length hair. One also sported "unkempt facial hair". The reservists had been given letters by a colonel to explain their appearance to anyone who challenged them.

He said: “It’s causing a lot of upset among regulars. People are saying it is just disrespectful.

“They seem to revel in the fact that they have a letter from their colonel which says the rules don’t apply to them.”

The Queen’s Regulations, which form the basis of military discipline and conduct, state that a male soldier’s hair must “be kept well cut and trimmed”, while the style and colour must not “be of an exaggerated nature”.

Moustaches must be “trimmed and not below the line of the lower lip”. Beards and whiskers are only to be worn with authority and must be neat and tidy.

Women must have their hair “neat and worn above the collar”.

Cyber warfare has emerged as one of the most important new threats in the defence world. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are all believed to have developed formidable cyber warfare and espionage skills to attack computer networks. Military computer and communications systems are also a target for activists, terrorist groups and criminal gangs, who may be backed by foreign states.

Yet militaries across the world have struggled to recruit experts who can keep up with the rapidly changing threat and there is strong competition for expertise from commercial firms.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, who is set to be the new Chief of the Defence Staff, last year said the military had to take “bold steps” to recruit the right talent to the new 500-strong cyber reserve, even if it annoyed “many fuddy-duddies in uniform”.

American commanders have also said their own cyber recruits will be spared some of the rigours or basic training.

An Army source said: “Being more flexible with eligibility criteria has attracted those who could not have been considered previously, or may not have volunteered in the past.”

The waivers had to be individually created for specific posts and a decision was made on a case-by-case basis.

The military insists the strategy is paying off, and high calibre reservist recruits were being attracted from the worlds of government, academia and the public sector.

An MoD spokesman said: “Defence seeks to maximise talent and where people bring niche skills and valuable experience but may not meet standard eligibility criteria it may offer exceptional dispensation for employment. This may be in a number of specialist areas including cyber.”

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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inside the British Army's secret information warfare machine
They are soldiers, but the 77th Brigade edit videos, record podcasts and write viral posts. Welcome to the age of information warfare
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-the-77th-brigade-britains-infor mation-warfare-military

By CARL MILLER

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Future Publishing/Getty Images/WIRED
A barbed-wire fence stretched off far to either side. A Union flag twisted in a gust of wind, and soldiers strode in and out of a squat guard’s hut in the middle of the road. Through the hut, and under a row of floodlights, I walked towards a long line of drab, low-rise brick buildings. It was the summer of 2017, and on this military base nestled among the hills of Berkshire, I was visiting a part of the British Army unlike any other. They call it the 77th Brigade. They are the troops fighting Britain’s information wars.

“If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking,” was written in foot-high letters across a whiteboard in one of the main atriums of the base. Over to one side, there was a suite full of large, electronic sketch pads and multi-screened desktops loaded with digital editing software. The men and women of the 77th knew how to set up cameras, record sound, edit videos. Plucked from across the military, they were proficient in graphic design, social media advertising, and data analytics. Some may have taken the army’s course in Defence Media Operations, and almost half were reservists from civvy street, with full time jobs in marketing or consumer research.

From office to office, I found a different part of the Brigade busy at work. One room was focussed on understanding audiences: the makeup, demographics and habits of the people they wanted to reach. Another was more analytical, focussing on creating “attitude and sentiment awareness” from large sets of social media data. Another was full of officers producing video and audio content. Elsewhere, teams of intelligence specialists were closely analysing how messages were being received and discussing how to make them more resonant.

Explaining their work, the soldiers used phrases I had heard countless times from digital marketers: “key influencers", “reach", “traction". You normally hear such words at viral advertising studios and digital research labs. But the skinny jeans and wax moustaches were here replaced by the crisply ironed shirts and light patterned camouflage of the British Army. Their surroundings were equally incongruous – the 77th’s headquarters were a mix of linoleum flooring, long corridors and swinging fire doors. More Grange Hill than Menlo Park. Next to a digital design studio, soldiers were having a tea break, a packet of digestives lying open on top of a green metallic ammo box. Another sign on the wall declared, “Behavioural change is our USP [unique selling point]”. What on Earth was happening?

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As fake news flourishes, the UK's fact-checkers are turning to automation to compete

As fake news flourishes, the UK's fact-checkers are turning to automation to compete
By GIAN VOLPICELLI
“If you track where UK manpower is deployed, you can take a good guess at where this kind of ‘influence’ activity happens,” an information warfare officer (not affiliated with the 77th) told me later, under condition of anonymity. “A document will come from the Ministry of Defence that will have broad guidance and themes to follow.” He explains that each military campaign now also has – or rather is – a marketing campaign too.

Ever since Nato troops were deployed to the Baltics in 2017, Russian propaganda has been deployed too, alleging that Nato soldiers there are rapists, looters, little different from a hostile occupation. One of the goals of Nato information warfare was to counter this kind of threat: sharply rebutting damaging rumours, and producing videos of Nato troops happily working with Baltic hosts.

Information campaigns such as these are “white”: openly, avowedly the voice of the British military. But to narrower audiences, in conflict situations, and when it was understood to be proportionate and necessary to do so, messaging campaigns could become, the officer said, “grey” and “black” too. “Counter-piracy, counter-insurgencies and counter-terrorism,” he explained. There, the messaging doesn't have to look like it came from the military and doesn't have to necessarily tell the truth.

I saw no evidence that the 77th do these kinds of operations themselves, but this more aggressive use of information is nothing new. GCHQ, for instance, also has a unit dedicated to fighting wars with information. It is called the “Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group” – or JTRIG – an utterly unrevealing name, as it is common in the world of intelligence. Almost all we know about it comes from a series of slides leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. Those documents give us a glimpse of what these kinds of covert information campaigns could look like.

According to the slides, JTRIG was in the business of discrediting companies, by passing “confidential information to the press through blogs etc.”, and by posting negative information on internet forums. They could change someone’s social media photos (“can take ‘paranoia’ to a whole new level”, a slide read.) They could use masquerade-type techniques – that is: placing “secret” information on a compromised computer. They could bombard someone’s phone with text messages or calls.

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Inside the daring mission to rescue ancient artefacts from the bottom of the sea

Inside the daring mission to rescue ancient artefacts from the bottom of the sea
By JOHN BECK
JTRIG also boasted an arsenal of 200 info-weapons, ranging from in-development to fully operational. A tool dubbed “Badger” allowed the mass delivery of email. Another, called “Burlesque”, spoofed SMS messages. “Clean Sweep” would impersonate Facebook wall posts for individuals or entire countries. “Gateway” gave the ability to “artificially increase traffic to a website”. “Underpass” was a way to change the outcome of online polls.

They had operational targets across the globe: Iran, Africa, North Korea, Russia and the UK. Sometimes the operations focused on specific individuals and groups, sometimes the wider regimes or even general populations. Operation Quito was a campaign, running some time after 2009, to prevent Argentina from taking over the Falkland Islands. A slide explained “this will hopefully lead to a long-running, large-scale, pioneering effects operation”. Running from March 2011, another operation aimed for regime change in Zimbabwe by discrediting the Zanu PF party.

Walking through the headquarters of the 77th, the strange new reality of warfare was on display. We’ve all heard a lot about “cyberwarfare” – about how states could attack their enemies through computer networks, damaging their infrastructure or stealing their secrets. But that wasn’t what was going on here. Emerging here in the 77th Brigade was a warfare of storyboards and narratives, videos and social media. An engagement now doesn’t just happen on the battlefield, but also in the media and online. A victory is won as much in the eyes of the watching public as between opposing armies on the battlefield. Warfare in the information age is a warfare over information itself.


Propaganda published on Facebook by Russian PR firms in an attempt to affect the 2016 US presidential election

Facebook
Over a decade ago, and a world away from the 77th Brigade, there were people who already knew that the internet was a potent new tool of influence. They didn’t call what they did “information warfare”, media operations, influence activities, online action, or any of the military vernacular that it would become. Members of the simmering online subcultures that clustered around hacker forums, in IRCs, and on imageboards like 4chan, they might have called it “attention hacking”. Or simply lulz.

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Inside the film studio bringing Earth's extremes to virtual reality

Inside the film studio bringing Earth's extremes to virtual reality
By TOM WARD
In 2008, Oprah Winfrey warned her millions of viewers that a known paedophile network “has over 9,000 penises and they’re all raping children.” That was a 4chan Dragon Ball-themed in-joke someone had posted on the show’s messageboard. One year later, Time magazine ran an online poll for its readers to vote on the world’s 100 most influential people, and 4chan used scripts to rig the vote so that its founder – then-21-year-old Christopher Poole, commonly known as “moot” – came first. They built bots and “sockpuppets” – fake social media accounts to make topics trend and appear more popular than they were – and swarmed together to overwhelm their targets. They started to reach through computers to change what people saw, and perhaps even what people thought. They celebrated each of their victories with a deluge of memes.

The lulz were quickly seized upon by others for the money. Throughout the 2000s, small PR firms, political communications consultancies, and darknet markets all began to peddle the tactics and techniques pioneered on 4chan. “Digital media-savvy merchants are weaponising their knowledge of commercial social media manipulation services,” a cybersecurity researcher who tracks this kind of illicit commercial activity tells me on condition of anonymity.

“It’s like an assembly line,” he continues. “They prepare the campaign, penetrate the target audience, maintain the operation, and then they strategically disengage. It is only going to get bigger.”

A range of websites started selling fake accounts, described, categorised and priced almost like wine: from cheap plonk all the way to seasoned vintages. The “HUGE MEGA BOT PACK”, available for just $3 on the darknet, allowed you to build your own bot army across hundreds of social media platforms. There were services for manipulating search engine results. You could buy Wikipedia edits. You could rent fake IP addresses to make it look like your accounts came from all over the world. And at the top of the market were “legend farms”, firms running tens of thousands of unique identities, each one with multiple accounts on social media, a unique IP address, its own internet address, even its own personality, interests and writing style. The lulz had transmogrified into a business model.

Inside the online disinformation war trying to tear Sweden apart

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Clearcut #1, Palm Oil Plantation, Borneo, Malaysia, 2016
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By NICOLA DAVISON
Inside the base of the 77th, everything was in motion. Flooring was being laid, work units installed; desks – empty of possessions – formed neat lines in offices still covered in plastic, tape and sawdust. The unit was formed in a hurry in 2015 from various older parts of the British Army – a Media Operations Group, a Military Stabilisation Support Group, a Psychological Operations Group. It has been rapidly expanding ever since.

In 2014, a year before the 77th was established, a memo entitled “Warfare in the Information Age” flashed across the British military. “We are now in the foothills of the Information Age” the memo announced. It argued that the British Army needed to fight a new kind of war, one that “will have information at its core”. The Army needed to be out on social media, on the internet, and in the press, engaged, as the memo put it, “in the reciprocal, real-time business of being first with the truth, countering the narratives of others, and if necessary manipulating the opinion of thousands concurrently in support of combat operations.”

Then the business of lulz turned into geopolitics. Around the world, militaries had come to exactly the same realisation as the British, and often more quickly. “There is an increased reliance on, and desire for, information,” Nato’s Allied Joint Doctrine for Information Operations, published in 2009, began. And it reached the same conclusion as the British military memo: wars needed to have an “increased attention on Info Ops”. Simply put, information operations should be used to target an enemy’s will. “For example, by questioning the legitimacy of leadership and cause, information activities may undermine their moral power base, separating leadership from supporters, political, military and public, thus weakening their desire to continue and affecting their actions,” the document explains.

Russia, too, was in on the act. The Arab Spring, the revolutions in several post-Soviet states, Nato’s enlargement – each of those had chipped away at the crumbling edifice of Russian power. Russia had a large conventional army but that seemed to matter less than in the past. The Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, began to rethink what a military needed to do. Warfare, he argued in an article for Voyenno-Promyshlennyy Kurier (The Military Industry Journal), was now “hybrid” – blurring the lines between war and peace, civilian and military, state and non-state. And there was another blurring too: between force and ideas. “Moral-psychological-cognitive-informational struggle”, as Gerasimov put it, was now central to how conflicts should be fought.

We now know what Russian information warfare looks like. Moscow has built an apparatus that stretches from mainstream media to the backwaters of the blogosphere, from the President of the Russian Federation to the humble bot. Just like the early attention hackers, their techniques are a mixture of the very visible and very secret – but at a vastly greater scale.

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By MATT REYNOLDS
Far less visible to Western eyes, however, were the outbreak of other theatres of information warfare outside of the English language. Gerasimov was right: each was a case of blurred boundaries. It was information warfare, but not always just carried out by militaries. It came from the state, but sometimes included plenty of non-state actors too. Primarily, it was done by autocracies, and was often directed internally, at the country’s own inhabitants.

A Harvard paper published in 2017 estimated that the Chinese government employs two million people to write 448 million social media posts a year. Their primary purpose is to keep online discussion away from sensitive political topics. Marc Owen Jones, a researcher at Exeter University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, exposed thousands of fake Twitter accounts in Saudi Arabia, “lionising the Saudi government or Saudi foreign policy”. In Bahrain, evidence emerged of spam-like operations, aiming to stop dissidents finding each other or debating politically dangerous topics online. In Mexico, an estimated 75,000 automated accounts are known locally as Peñabots, after President Enrique Peña Nieto, flooding protest hashtags with irrelevant, annoying noise burying any useful information.

Disinformation and deception have been a part of warfare for thousands of years, but across the world, something new was starting to happen. Information has long been used to support combat operations, but now combat was seen to taking place primarily, sometimes exclusively, through it. From being a tool of warfare, each military began to realise that the struggle with, over and through information was what war itself actually was about. And it wasn’t confined to Russia, China or anyone else. A global informational struggle has broken out. Dozens of countries are already doing it. And these are just the campaigns that we know about.

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On their shoulders, the soldiers of the 77th Brigade wear a small, round patch of blue encircling a snarling golden creature that looks like a lion. Called an A Chinthe, it’s a mythical Burmese beast first worn by the the Chindits, a British and Indian guerrilla force created during the Second World War to protect Burma against the advancing Japanese Army. An army of irregulars, the Chindits infiltrated deep behind enemy lines in unpredictable sorties, destroying supply depots and severing transport links, aiming to spread confusion as much as destruction.

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By STEPHEN ARMSTRONG
It’s no accident that the 77th wear the Chinthe on their shoulder. Like the Chindits, they are a new kind of force. An unorthodox one, but in the eyes of the British Army also a necessary innovation; simply reflecting the world in which we all now live and the new kind of warfare that happens within it.

This new warfare poses a problem that neither the 77th Brigade, the military, or any democratic state has come close to answering yet. It is easy to work out how to deceive foreign publics, but far, far harder to know how to protect our own. Whether it is Russia’s involvement in the US elections, over Brexit, during the novichok poisoning or the dozens of other instances that we already know about, the cases are piling up. In information warfare, offence beats defence almost by design. It’s far easier to put out lies than convince everyone that they’re lies. Disinformation is cheap; debunking it is expensive and difficult.

Even worse, this kind of warfare benefits authoritarian states more than liberal democratic ones. For states and militaries, manipulating the internet is trivially cheap and easy to do. The limiting factor isn’t technical, it’s legal. And whatever the overreaches of Western intelligence, they still do operate in legal environments that tend to more greatly constrain where, and how widely, information warfare can be deployed. China and Russia have no such legal hindrances.

Equipping us all with the skills to protect ourselves from information warfare is, perhaps, the only true solution to the problem. But it takes time. And what could be taught would never keep up with what can be done. Technological possibility, as things stand, easily outpaces public understanding.

The Chinthe was often built at the entrances of pagodas, temples and other sacred sites to guard them from the menaces and dangers lurking outside. Today, that sacred site is the internet itself. From the lulz, to spam, to information warfare, the threats against it have become far better funded and more potent. The age of information war is just getting started.

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By KATIA MOSKVITCH
Carl Miller is Research Director at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, and the author of The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab

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