Amid growing public concern over the fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccine, the UK government has given the go-ahead to the British Army to deploy its information warfare unit – the 77th Brigade – to combat the debate on the inoculations’ possible dangers.
The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms, data analysis and audience research to conduct “information warfare,” as described by the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter.
A report by the Sunday Times revealed that the British Army has mobilized the 77th Brigade’s Defence Cultural Specialist Unit to monitor and counter “online propaganda against vaccines.”
Many have raised logical concerns about the vaccine, particularly due to the fact that they have been fast-tracked at an unprecedented pace, with vaccines usually requiring at least ten to 15 years to develop.
In addition, the fact that the coronavirus represents a miniscule threat with a survival rate of over 99 percent across the board has many wondering why a vaccine with a 90 percent efficacy, based on a very small sample size, is necessary. Then there is the matter of digital health passports, which health ministers around the world are talking up as a requirement to return to normal life, which oblige the public show proof of vaccination to access pubs, restaurants and events.
According to the Times’ report, the 77th Brigade is “already monitoring cyberspace for COVID-19 content and analyzing how British citizens are being targeted online”.
The 77th Brigade has worked alongside psychological operations teams in Afghanistan, studying the behavior of the civilian population and giving cultural and linguistic advice to ground troops, according to the brigade’s own website.
“Our aim is to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviors of the opposing forces and adversaries,” reads its description.
Among the 77th Brigade’s functions listed on its site include “collecting, creating and disseminating digital and wider media content,” conducting “adversary analysis”, as well as “engaging with audiences in order to influence perceptions” and creating products “that aim to influence behaviors”.
The British Army’s need to deploy an information warfare unit raises concern as to why such excessive and forceful measures are being used, and those familiar with the 77th brigade are aware that its concern for individual safety is questionable to say the least, given its often nefarious work.