I do wonder if the Iraq war had all gone swimmingly and we were awash with cheap oil and grateful Iraqis, whether there would be quite so much airtime afforded to the grieving relatives of the 179 military deaths. Wasted deaths to be sure – but any more wasted than those of the many others who stepped into the path of a double decker bus one morning? It may not, almost certainly not, be the intention of the relatives, that their sad loss should be used to whack political enemies over the head – but the media and politicians? I am not so sure of their motives. Some don’t seem to have any such misgivings over the deaths of soldiers or civilians in Northern Ireland.
Hence my interest in alternative methods of ‘warfare’ such as the 77th Brigade. It was originally called the ‘Security Assistance Group’ or ‘SAG’ for short, though when they decided last year that they would recruit a geriatric geek complement to wage cyber warfare*, they wisely decided that ‘SAG’ was probably not the best acronym to lure them in. Rather reminded me of when the Court of Protection were looking to rebrand their Visitors and proposed to call us the ‘Mental Advisory Department’. We only narrowly escaped knocking on doors announcing ourselves as the ‘MAD woman’…..
Returning to SAG, or the 77th Brigade, the idea is that it would wage ‘non-lethal’ warfare across social media. Or at least the ‘5th column’ would. The irony of it having a ‘5th column’ comprised of elderly journalists, bloggers and film-makers was presumably not lost on the military powers-that-be. (I have just wasted half an hour trying to discover why it has 6 columns, numbered 1 -7…apparently the original 6th column was disbanded before the Chindits went into Burma – so there, and what that has to do with the price of eggs defeats me!)
The noble Chindits now having turned into the Blogits, Filmits, and Writeits – they are to be unleashed on an unsuspecting audience to flood their airwaves and cyberwaves with insults, pictures of Pork sausages, and endless soap-documentaries depicting the fabled 40 virgins looking like Cinderella’s big sister with warts and really not worth blowing yourself up for. Demoralise the enemy, don’t shoot him, sort of thing.
These ‘official’ keyboard commandos (Keymmandos?)have helped themselves to the Chinthe logo, once the preserve of the Chindits, and you get a natty little badge to sew on your anorak if you sign up (you still have to be a member of the Territorial Army, but no one expects you to be able to run across Brecon Beacons with a full backpack – able to move from computer to kettle and back unaided will do).
They have their own official Twitter account – though disturbingly, they have yet to Tweet a solitary morsel. The Facebook page is slightly more active, and they have a Youtube channel. Given that it is intended there should be 1500 of them, based at the Denison Barrack in Hermitage, by 2019, this ‘Chairborne’ Brigade is going to have to make a start on their work soon.
I do like the idea of crack units trained in sarcasm and irony interlaced with cat videos ‘unliking’ any Jihadist Facebook profiles as soon as they pop up. Though to run true to form, the army will mechanise the unit, install spambots capable of 120 tweets per second, and retire the humans, caring naught for their carpal tunnel syndrome. Will they get the psychological support they need though? Veterans of the 2003 ‘Flame Wars’ are still haunted in their dreams by the Avatars of long vanquished trolls. Will there be medals for ‘conspicuous bravery whilst heavily outnumbered in the face of an unrelenting onslaught of caustic sarcasm’. Paralympic challenges for one handed texting whilst ignoring your mother’s call to supper?
Who will play Tom Cruise in Laptop Gun?
Carry On – Up the Cyber!
*This post brought to you as a result of an elderly journalist of my acquaintance having just signed up to lead a troop of these cybernats. There is life after the Daily Mail. Sheesh!
**I only promised not to name you. Not to take the piss was a challenge too far.