We must leverage social media to our advantage: Army Chief

Bipin-Rawat-PTI [File] Army Chief Bipin Rawat | PTI

With the growing presence of social media, the Army headquarters is setting up a separate directorate of social media that will be headed by a major general rank officer.

Speaking on the issue of social media, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said the Indian Army is doing a study on restructuring its headquarters and setting up an independent office on the information warfare, especially on social media and training soldiers is also on the cards.

“Our adversary will use social media for psychological warfare and deception. So, we must leverage it to our advantage,” General Rawat said while adding that he cannot prevent his soldiers from using smartphones.

“If you can't prevent the usage of smartphone, best allow it, but it is important to have a means of imposing discipline,” he added. However, he admitted that several suggestions have come from multiple quarters to stop the use of social media by soldiers.

Indian Army has a very robust social media policy and there is a particular department which is dedicated to monitor social media engagement. And whenever, anyone is noticed to be violating guidelines, he or she is warned immediately. Indian Army's unit based in Army Headquarters is presently monitoring over 700 such WhatsApp army related groups.

There are reports that the government wants to keep soldiers away from social media, especially after several armed forces personnel came out with videos of criticising their senior officers.

General Rawat also said in modern day warfare, information warfare was important and artificial intelligence (AI) was being talked about.

“In modern day warfare, information warfare is important. We have started talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). If we have to leverage AI to our advantage we must engage through social media, as a lot of what we wish to gain as part of AI will come via social media,” he said.

Army officials maintain that its social media policy has all dos and don'ts for all army personnel for using social media. Certain points including restricting armymen to watch porn on Facebook/social networking sites; no use of photo in uniform as profile pic on WhatsApp/Facebook; do not click advertisements on social sites alluring for prizes/awards; do not expose official identity on such sites; no uploading of pictures with weapon on such sites even in civil uniform; do not reveal your rank, unit name and location or anything related to your work; do not accept friend request from unknowns; soldiers families should not post/mention their profession on sites; background of any picture should not contain anything related to military and do not store/save any information related to military in computer/laptops etc.