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Singapore Armed Forces setting up new command to integrate C4 and cyber defence operations

Image credit: MINDEF

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has announced plans to create a new C4 command to integrate and coordinate C4 (Command, Control, Communications and Computers) and cyber defence operations and capabilities, as both are aimed at ensuring the availability and security of SAF military networks

The SAF is transforming to an increasingly networked and technology-centric force, making it more and more crucial to enhance cyber defence efforts. The integration of the C4 and cyber defence will allow the SAF to better harness operational synergies between network and cyber defence operations; and optimise resources by centralising common functions like training, human resource and logistics.

The SAF C4 command will be inaugurated in November this year. The command will comprise two Brigade-equivalent groups, the recently established Cyber Defence Group (CDG) and the existing C4 Operations Group (C4OG). It will have about 2,000 Regular and National Servicemen, once it is fully staffed over the next 10 years.

The C4OG is an existing group within the SAF comprising about 700 Regular and National Servicemen. The C4OG comprises two operational units -- a Network Operations Unit and a Network Monitoring Unit. These two units (a) operate and maintain the SAF's strategic network infrastructure; and (b) conduct 24/7 network monitoring of the SAF's military networks to ensure that they are operational. It will retain its existing responsibilities.

The CDG is a part of the Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO). The DCO’s formation was announced earlier this year.  It consists of four formations across MINDEF(Ministry of Defence)/SAF - the Cyber Security Division, the Policy and Plans Directorate, the Cyber Security Inspectorate, and the CDG. The DCO will lead and coordinate cyber security across the Defence Cluster, including the SAF's military networks, MINDEF/SAF's corporate IT systems, Defence Science and Technology Agency, DSO National Laboratories, MINDEF-Related Organisations and defence industry partners.

The CDG will comprise about 1,300 servicemen when it is fully staffed over the next 10 years and it will be responsible for the 24/7 cyber defence of the SAF's military networks.

It will have two operational units: (i) a Security Monitoring Unit, and (ii) an Incident Response and Audit Unit. The two operational units will (a) conduct 24/7 security monitoring of the SAF's military networks to detect any anomalies, flag out potential attacks and coordinate cyber defence responses; (b) respond to cyber defence incidents on the SAF's military networks, where response teams will be forward deployed to identify, contain and neutralise cyber threats; and (c) audit the security of the SAF's military networks and systems.

The CDG also includes the Cyber Defence Test and Evaluation Centre (CyTEC), which has been fully operational since 2015. CyTEC provides facilities for network security testing, cyber defence tools evaluation, and conduct of cyber defence training and exercises.

The CDG is under the command of HQ SAF C4 Command, but it will also take direction from the DCO on policy and long-term capability development in cyber defence. In the event of large-scale cyber incidents that affect multiple domains in the Defence Cluster, the CDG will work with the DCO, which takes charge of incident response and coordinates actions across the Defence Cluster.

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