The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Monday said the Army was committed to enhancing its psychological operations and operational efficiency through effective communication.
Buratai stated this in Abuja, when participants of Course 27 of National Defence College (NDC) visited and a paper entitled: “Psychological Operation and Operational Efficiency in the Nigerian Army: the Social Media in Perspective” to him.
He said that the topic of the paper was apt and timely, adding that the impact of social media on military operations was enormous.
According to him, it has both negative and positive impact but by and large, the negative one travels wide and it is shared the most than the positive one.
“What always looks abnormal and unusual is what is referred to as news and it is quickly shared but the positive is seen as normal and so it does not make any difference.
“This is the difference between our position in being patriotic, trying to defend our country at all costs and those that will always strive to ensure that they drag us back and distract us from carrying out our responsibilities.
“With this paper, we will try and take step to work on our psychological operations.
“We will make sure that we harness the resources that we can muster to support the intelligence corps to improve on its psychological operations.
“We already have that on the ground and we have worked within the last four years to upgrade the entire Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps.
“They are now better placed to do a lot of multi functions to achieve our desired result of peace and security and to defend our country,” Buratai said.
He said that Boko Haram terrorists had in the past capitalised on social media campaigns to dampen the morale of the military because of lack of efficient communication link between the military and the traditional media.
But, he disclosed that the army recently opened a channel of communication with the media and the public through its Directorate of Public Relations.
According to him, army is an institution and we have our guidelines on how we deal with some of the challenges.
“We have our military justice system that we deal with any infringement and we have our own way of investigation of whatever that happens within the army.
“We are accountable to the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces for all our actions.
“As such, we should not be stampeded to reacting to frivolous allegations made on social media.
“With the psychological operation command, we will also have our own line of sending messages.
“And, we will as much as possible equally try to pre-empt certain issues as they come but not as a direct reaction to any negative or mischievous comment for the Nigerian army,” he said.
The army chief urged the NDC to explore the theory of a “failed state’’ or “progressive state theory’’ in its next course against the backdrop of some studies by some quarters that Nigeria would break up in 2030.
“Let them research on the topic, `Developed State: the Prospects and Challenges for Nigeria 2030’,’’ he said.
Earlier, Col. Thompson Ugiagbe, a participant who presented the paper, said the paper was a report of the research carried out by 11 faculty members of course 27.
Ugiagbe said that considering the irregular warfare that the Nigerian military was currently engaged in, the focus should be on gaining the support of the populace and erode same for the adversary.
He said that the Nigerian army had yet to exploit the potential of the social media in its psychological operations.
According to him, the study covered 2009 to 2019, covering the operations in the North-East on psychological operations through the social media and the operational efficiency of the Nigerian army.
“We recommend the formulation of social media policy, capacity-building programme as well as Nigerian army social media plan.
“We recommended that army headquarters should direct the department of Army Policy and Plan to formulate social media plans, direct the Doctrine Review Committee to review the chapter on psychological operations in the Nigerian army doctrine.
“Also recommended is that the Army Intelligence Corps and Directorate of Public Relations should conduct a training needs assessment on psychological operations and social media; department of civil-military affairs as coordinator of psychological operations in the army.
“Ask the cyber warfare command to establish a social media unit and task the department of civil-military affairs to develop a social media campaign plan,” he said.