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CBE a remarkable feeling, says brigadier who set up ‘Facebook warriors’ unit

Alastair Aitken set up the 77th Brigade in 2015 to ‘challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement’.

A British Army brigadier who created a specialist unit of “Facebook warriors” to combat the rising influence of online interaction on warfare has said it was a “remarkable” feeling to receive a CBE.

Brigadier Alastair Aitken set up the 77th Brigade in April 2015, as an “agent of change… to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement”.

Brig Aitken was decorated at Buckingham Palace alongside playwright Peter Nichols, theatre director John Tiffany, and the governor general of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason.

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Brigadier Alastair Aitken is made a CBE by the Duke of Cambridge (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Brig Aitken said: “It’s remarkable feeling. It’s a fantastic setting and brilliant experience in terms of the range of talent that you get to meet whilst here.

“My family were delighted and asked, ‘can we have new hats?’,

“They are very excited to be here today. I think they are a little starstruck from seeing the Duke of Cambridge too.”

The 77th Brigade is made up of Army recruits skilled in the use of social media, who disseminate digital content to support the armed forces.

“How we communicate is a really important part (of the 77th Brigade) and how we work together to counter the campaigns of regimes that use disinformation to create war zones,” he said.

Brig Aitken, who was born in Bedfordshire but raised all over the world, described the 77th Brigade’s creation as coming “just at the right time” in terms of international tensions over the past 12 months.

He served in the the Black Watch, Royal Regiment of Scotland for 30 years.

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