Social media unit and app for soldiers in offing

Social media unit and app for soldiers in offing

Indian Army plans to start a separate directorate on social media and launch an app for soldiers

Indian Army plans to start a separate directorate on social media and launch an app to reach out to the soldiers, as the tendency to use smartphones increases rapidly in the armed forces.

“Social media is here to stay; soldiers will use social media. Our adversary will use social media for psychological warfare and deception. We must leverage social media to our advantage,” Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said here on Tuesday at a seminar.

“We have received advice that we should advise our soldiers to stay away from social media. But how can you deny a soldier to own a smartphone? If you can't prevent usage of smartphone, the best approach would be to allow it, but it is important to have means of imposing discipline,” he said.

Sources said the plan is to set up a new directorate, headed by a Maj Gen rank officer, to deal with the social media. A smartphone app is also in the works. A study on information warfare with social media as one of the components is underway at the army headquarters.

“In modern-day warfare, information warfare is important and within it, we've started talking about artificial intelligence (AI). If we have to leverage AI to our advantage we must engage through social media. A lot of what we wish to gain as part of AI will come via social media,' said the army chief.

In 2015, army released a social media policy that barred the men in uniform to disclose personal details like rank, unit, formation, appointment, place of duty and movement on social network sites.

The policy also asked soldiers not to share operational and administrative matters, photos in uniform or background depicting army installations and equipment.

Moreover, the army personnel were not to create or be a member of social media groups depicting religious sects, political groups, foreign military networks and hate groups. They are also barred from circulating chain emails, messages and posts on the armed forces.

From those early days, the world's second largest army is evolving a new strategy to boost its information warfare campaign. “Information is one of the fulcrum of the national power. Indians use smartphones in every 80 seconds. There's no way armed forces can remain away from that reality,” said Gen Rawat.

China's People's Liberation Army has dedicated divisions dealing with information warfare.