Last year, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter revealed that 77th Brigade was involved in countering misinformation online relating to Coronavirus.
It is understood that this effort has now ended, with 77th Brigade keen to point out that their capabilities were not used against British citizens.
In an update to the ‘Ministry of Defence COVID Support Force’ guidance on the UK Government website, it states
“77th Brigade previously support Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit with monitoring and detecting disinformation and misinformation. Instances identified were passed to the Cabinet Office for action. The Brigade is no longer involved in these tasks which came to an end in the summer.
The 77th Brigade are not currently supporting in the Cabinet Office with any projects that would involve interactions with British Citizens who might be posting disinformation nor misinformation and any capabilities are not being directed at the UK population. 77th Brigade do not, and have never, conducted any kind of action against British citizens.”
Back in 2019 Scottish National Party politician Douglas Chapman claimed that 77th Brigade are “attacking and undermining” people in Scotland.
In the now deleted Tweet, Douglas Chapman MP posted:
Essentially, he claimed that the British Army were engaged in operations online against British citizens, there was however no proof offered.
What do 77th Brigade do?
In their own words, “Our aim is to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries”.
Basically, 77th Brigade specialise in “non-lethal forms of psychological warfare”, using social media including Facebook and Twitter to fight with information in response to external factors, like Russian misinformation.
Their target is typically Russian propaganda, propaganda that is notably very active around NATO troops deployed to the Baltics alleging that the soldiers there are criminals and rapists. More recently, their target has been COVID19 misinformation.
Russia is at the forefront of information warfare in the modern age, utilising an array of organisations and strategies to spread disinformation to further national strategy but how are they doing it? The flood of inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, especially with coronavirus.
The point of units like 77th Brigade is to counter this kind of threat.