Seizing the Digital High Ground: Military Operations and Politics in the Social Media Era
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV NORFOLK VA JOINT FORCES STAFF COLLEGE
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The information revolution, and in particular the rapid proliferation of social media, is changing how society operates. Confidentiality is being replaced by openness information that was hitherto the preserve of a few is now instantaneously broadcast around the globe. Cultures, societies, businesses, and disparate individuals are being connected in unprecedented ways, with a profound impact on the traditional balance of power. For those concerned with national security, social media has become one of the most influential factors shaping the operational environment. The British military s current doctrinal view of social media is limited and can perhaps be best characterised as one of caution. Opinion is divided on the relative threats and opportunities. Through the analysis of social media s technological evolution, its impact on crowd behaviour, and using case studies of the Arab Spring and Islamic State, this thesis argues that unless there is a vastly improved understanding of the utility of social media and a greater investment in its application, the military risks losing relevance and becoming a blunt instrument for the execution of political aims and the provision of security in the twentyfirst century. Ten specific recommendations are made to help optimise the military for defending the nation s interests in the social media era, including altering the mindset, revising extant doctrine, and selecting and training leaders for the future operating environment.
- Sociology and Law