NATO STRATCOM conference winds up and director bows out

Latvia's long-awaited conference on NATO's strategic communications abilities concluded on Friday with attention focussing on how Islamic State (also known as ISIS and Daesh) uses social media.

However, the occasion was also notable for the departure of Janis Karklins as founder and director of the Strategic Communications Center of Excellence just one day after the ribbon was cut to officially open the facility.

"“I leave this post with a feeling of great satisfaction and I can finally start smiling,” Karklins said, handing over his job to new director Janis Sarts, formerly a Defense Ministry official.

"There is a lot to do for the center," Sarts said, "What is going to be the world of social networks in five years? We have to be better at grappling with today and being prepared for the future

"We have to have mastery of digital networks," he added.

Earlier, a variety of experts dissected Islamic State's elusive use of social media to spread its message worldwide and the various strategies being considered by NATO and its allies in response.

Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergamanis, who recently opened a Twitter account, rounded matters off stressing the need to be ready to combat cyber-assault.

"Russia and Islamic State provide us with real-life examples of how this weapon can be deployed... the ability to distinguish between what is true and what is not is the primary goal of daily communication."

"Russia's infowar in Ukraine is a great example displaying the true importance of StratCom," Bergamanis concluded.

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