Government boosts national security comms capability to combat international threats

Comms experts are being drafted into the Government's national security comms team, in the wake of a national security review calling for an expansion of the specialist unit, it has emerged.

National security: The Government is boosting its comms capability to combat international threats
National security: The Government is boosting its comms capability to combat international threats
At least eight posts are currently being advertised, for roles ranging from senior comms advisers to strategic comms officers. Interviews will be held shortly and the Government aims to get people in post as soon as possible, according to the Cabinet Office.

The government department says that new recruits will "play a key role in an expanding team working across the Government’s national security priorities" and "will be at the forefront of the use of communications to tackle interconnected, complex challenges to our national security".

The move is part of a long-term shift that will see comms placed at the centre of Britain’s security strategy, including tackling the threat of fake news. 

The raft of new recruits to the national security comms team comes just weeks after the Government’s national security capability review pledged: "We will significantly expand the National Security Communications Team to make communications an integral part of our approach to national security."

The review warned that while Britain is "considered a world leader in communications" it has "taken a more consistent approach to delivering domestic communications campaigns, such as on road safety and stopping smoking, than in national security."

Enhancing the capability of the team will enable senior officials to have access to a "cross-government group of communications professionals who can work centrally or alongside them to achieve communications objectives as an integrated part of the Government’s approach to national security".

It will continue to be staffed by the Government Communication Service, according to the review.

Citing the rise of digital and social media platforms, the "decline of trust in traditional sources of information" and fake news, the review said: "The rules of the game have changed."

It warned that the "democratisation of information, and the means to exploit it, has allowed hostile actors to exert disproportionate influence in competition with the public interest".

Comms "must be part of the frontline of our defences" and "we need to be able to communicate more effectively about our policies and what we stand for across our core national security interests", it said.

The growth in the national security comms team is mirrored by a surge in the capacity of a little-known British Army unit, the 77th Brigade, which was only formed in 2015. 

The brigade is described by the Ministry of Defence as "an agent of change; through targeted information activity and outreach".

It has seen a 38 per cent increase in its ranks since last October, when it had just 340 personnel. 

Earlier this month, the Government revealed that the brigade, which includes web specialists, a content team, an information warfare team, combat camera teams and comms operations officers, is now 470-strong.

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