Throughout 2020, Canada’s Armed Forces have allegedly engaged in information warfare campaigns seemingly seeking to emulate Britain’s secretive 77th Brigade. This should trouble ordinary Canadians.
A series of unsettling and bizarre developments have unfolded under the radar north of the 49th parallel of late. Canadian soldiers have engaged in information warfare, or attempted to, against their own citizens, without apparent official approval.
In the latest example of this troubling phenomenon, Canada’s military has reportedly drawn up plans to establish an online psychological operations division, in the manner of Britain’s secretive psywar outfit 77th Brigade, however, officially at least, the defense minister is having none of it.
Given the Brigade’s recent domestically-focused activities in the UK, one can only hope his resistance is sincere, and enduring.
Leaked documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen indicate the Canadian Armed Forces have drawn up plans for a unit that would use “propaganda and other techniques to influence attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”
Dubbed the ‘Defense Strategic Communication Group’, it’s intended to advance “national interests by using defense activities” to achieve behavioral change at home and abroad.
For example, personal social media accounts of select Canadian Forces staff would be used to disseminate pre-approved government and military propaganda.
While the content would give every appearance of being ‘organic’, it would in fact be covertly crafted and coordinated by military officers.
Academics, military veterans and other public figures active on social media would also be asked to participate, pushing pre-approved propaganda messaging on social networks and in personal interactions with bribed journalists, among other things.
The proposal follows a program of “weaponization” of the Canadian military’s Public Affairs branch, begun in 2015 by Chief of Defense Staff General Jon Vance and mentioned in a 2017 long-term defense strategy document.
Since then Canadian soldiers have been trained at a cost of over US$1 million in ‘Behavioral Dynamics Methodology’, the controversial and scientifically dubious creation of SCL Group, parent of disgraced and defunct political campaign firm Cambridge Analytica.
The data-mining was necessary to help military operatives working in care homes during the Corona-virus pandemic. Why are the public’s opinions on authorities’ handling of the pandemic relevant to the military’s care for the elderly? What did they do with the data? These questions have still not been satisfactorily answered.
In response to requests for comment from the Ottawa Citizen, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office denied Defense Strategic Communication Group will be going ahead, his press secretary Floriane Bonneville claiming “no such plan has been approved, nor will it be.”
Since its exposure, Sajjan has launched an investigation into the operation, and placed a temporary pause on all military influence activities, implying he may have been unaware of its execution in advance.
But given the significant controversy caused by previous Canadian military info war endeavors, attempted or aborted, one has to ask why they remain so determined in their quest to launch such operations.
For example, in July, it was revealed Canadian Joint Operations Command had planned a propaganda campaign to counteract predicted public unrest during the country’s Corona-virus lock down.
Planning documents, released after concerned military officials voiced dismay about the operation to local media, indicate the effort would have involved “shaping” and “exploiting” information to strengthen trust in official sources to deter Canadians from “participating in civil disobedience” and reinforce “compliance with suppression measures.”
The campaign would’ve combined traditional public relations and communications methods, employed by an army of “influence activity” specialists within and without the military, as well as various other techniques, in order to effectively relay government messages to the public.
Even more shockingly, if civil disorder hit high enough levels, military vehicles with loudspeakers would have been deployed to blare out those messages into the streets. Something the Canadian military has done before in Afghanistan.
However, Defense Chief Vance put a stop to the campaign when he learned of it, claiming information operations tactics shouldn’t be used in a domestic context, except in the event of enemy invasion.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Propaganda News 2020.