Army officer asks men to 'not fall prey' to social media opinions

Faced with an onslaught of "misinformation campaign" against the force, Northern Army Commander Lt General D S Hooda has asked his officers and men to "not fall prey" to print, electronic and social media opinions.

PTI| Updated: Dec 09, 2014, 00:09 AM IST

New Delhi: Faced with an onslaught of "misinformation campaign" against the force, Northern Army Commander Lt General D S Hooda has asked his officers and men to "not fall prey" to print, electronic and social media opinions.

In a letter, he has also asked his men to follow "a nuanced approach" which "balances local aspirations" while fighting proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.

This, he said, was necessary as metrics for determining success in Counter Insurgency operations have not kept pace with the changing environment.

Army sources said his letter, written nearly 10 days ago, is a response to a "series of misinformation campaign on social media".

Meanwhile, an anonymous WhatsApp message appeared a day after six Pakistani infiltrators attacked an Army unit in Uri on Friday.

The message criticised the Army Commander and the 15 Corps Commander for terming "a mistake" the November 4 killing of two civilians by the Army in Kashmir.

The WhatsApp message is said to be written by a young Army officer but sources in the Army headquarters ruled out such a possibility.

In his letter to all GsOC, which would be further disseminated down to the units, Lt Gen Hooda said, "Today, all of us in Northern Command are confronted with unique challenges, and the manner in which we face them will determine not only how the nation views its Army, but more importantly, how we view ourselves."

He said the print, electronic and social media are powerful tools which sway not only public opinion but also the sentiments of Army's own officers and men.

"Let us not fall prey to them. The only way to counter this is by our own courage of conviction that what we are doing is professionally correct and honourable," he said.

Even though Army officers and men have brought the proxy war in J&K under control, with immense courage and sacrifice, he said this peace remains fragile.

"The situation today is more demanding than the past when

terrorist kills were the most important indicator in gauging our achievements.

"A more nuanced approach, which balances local aspirations with controlling terrorist violence, is to be adopted. While in theory this aspect is largely understood, its application on ground needs further refinement. Conduct/prosecution of ops needs to change in sync with the environment prevailing," he said.

"Unfortunately, our metrics for determining success in CI ops have not kept pace with the changing environment, and this too has contributed to some confusion in our minds," the officer said.

The senior officer said the Army is deployed in J&K to do a job and we will do it to the best of our ability.

"Mistakes will happen. Let me assure you that I have a clear understanding of the difficulties under which we operate and that nobody will be unfairly harmed. This clear message must go out to all units.

"Our Army's ethic and values, backed up by a strong military justice system, are the best in the world. These will serve to guide us and also protect us. You and your men are doing an outstanding job in the most exacting of circumstances and your well being is uppermost in my mind," he said.

Asked about the letter, Army sources said "disgruntled elements" are putting out canards in the social media that armed terrorists are infiltrating and targeting Army camps because restraints have been placed on opening fire by soldiers.

"This is completely untrue. It is a disinformation campaign," the sources said.