Questions remain over death of soldier due to join secretive cyber-warfare brigade

A hand holding a smart phone, using the internet
Tom Coburg

The decomposed body of lance corporal Bernard Mongan was discovered in his room in an accommodation block at Catterick Garrison three weeks after the soldier had been last seen. His death will require a thorough investigation.

Mongan was expected to take up a new posting with the highly controversial 77th Brigade, which specialises in top-secret cyber warfare.

Concerns

For the past five years, Mongan was attached to the Intelligence Corps as a member of the 1st Military Intelligence battalion.

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Mongan had reportedly been bullied because of his links to the south of Ireland and was violently assaulted by two Irish Guardsmen from the north of Ireland in November 2018. According to the Daily Mirror, Mongan’s widow claims “it feels like a cover up”.

Secretive brigade

The Canary has previously looked into the work of the 77th Brigade and found that it was formed from:

the Military Stabilisation and Support Group, Media Operations Group, 15 Psychological Operations Group and the Security Capacity Building team.

As previously reported, 15 Psychological Operations Group was headed by Steve Tatham, who went on to head the Defence division of SCL, the now defunct parent of data miner Cambridge Analytica (also defunct in the wake of the Facebook data privacy scandal).

The 77th Brigade website reveals little detail of its work, but in 2018 Wired paid a visit to its base and described its activities.

In February 2018, chief of the general staff Sir Nicholas Carter quoted War in 140 Characters author David Patrikarakos, who said “social media is throwing up digital supermen: hyper-connected and hyper-empowered online individuals”. Carter added, “I’d like a few of those in 77 Brigade, please.” As The Canary previously noted, one 77th reserve was Gordon MacMillan, a senior Twitter editor with responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Institute of Statecraft support

Institute of Statecraft (IoS) director and co-founder Dan Lafayeedney revealed in a speech in Israel that the IoS “supported the creation of special Army reserve units (e.g. 77 Bde and SGMI – Specialist Group Military Intelligence)”:

Much of our work to improve the effectiveness of our armed forces for all forms of modern warfare is, of course, very sensitive as we feed it into the highest levels of MOD and the armed forces.

What we seek to do is to help the Forces become more competent to fight modern war with all kinds of weapons, and to do so on the budget the state provides.

To that end we have supported the creation of special Army reserve units (e.g. 77 Bde and SGMI – Specialist Group Military Intelligence) with which we now have a close, informal relationship.

He added how civilian experts, such as hedge-fund managers and bankers, are also seconded to such units as reservists:

These bring in, as reservists with a special status, individuals who are very senior civilian experts in some relevant area, such as Hedge Fund managers, senior bankers, Heads of PA companies, etc. I.e. people whom the Army could never afford to hire, but who donate their time and expertise as patriots.

One IoS project is the antileft-wing Integrity Initiative propaganda network.

Inquest

An investigation into Mongan’s death has now reportedly been transferred from North Yorkshire Police to the military authorities. An inquest has been opened. Those investigations will undoubtedly examine the bullying Mongan endured, as well as why it took three weeks for his body to be discovered.

His family and friends deserve the truth.

Featured image via Pixabay

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