Army personnel can’t be denied the use of smartphones, Army chief Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday, underlining that social media can be used for psychological warfare and to combat proxy war, insurgency and terrorism.
He said a study was being undertaken for the restructuring of the Army headquarters as an organisation was needed in place at all levels for leveraging social media.
Referring to a mobile app designed for the welfare of soldiers and officers, Rawat said if applications are being created for them then how can they be denied the use of smartphones.
The Army chief said if the armed forces don’t keep pace with time and the manner in which the social media is moving forward then it will be “fire-fighting” to keep up with time.
Delivering a keynote address on ‘Social Media and the Armed Forces’ to a gathering of senior officials from the three armed services, Rawat said social media can be leveraged for psychological warfare and deception not just in conventional warfare, but also in combating proxy war insurgency and terrorism.
“For doing this, we need to have an organisation in place at all levels. It is in the backdrop of this, we have undertaken a study in the Army headquarters for restructuring the headquarters within. How do we then ensure that the social media platform becomes an important adjunct of our information warfare strategy. Do we need a Directorate General of Information Warfare?
“Can we amalgamate some of our existing resources and ensure that social media becomes a part and parcel of our life in the Army.” Rawat said.
Armed forces personnel are not encouraged to use smartphones because of the sensitivity of their job.
Referring to this, Rawat said if the usage of smartphones cannot be prevented then at least the individual should be taught how to use it in the right manner.
“If you want to bring some discipline, then you (should) have the means of imposing that discipline. In case, there is no means to impose that discipline, then it is of no use passing order and instructions which can be implemented,” he said.
The Army, Rawat said, is developing a mobile application Arpaan to benefit the soldiers, the officers the JCOs and their families in reaching out to various fora and coming out with their problems and seeking answers to it.
“If we are creating our own apps then how can we deny the usage of smartphones to our soldiers. Smartphones are here to stay. We must learn to utilise them to our advantage,” he said.