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Singapore Unveils Digital and Intelligence Service

Image credit: Ministry of Defence

The Service of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) HAS inaugurated the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS). It is the fourth military branch or service in the SAF. It has been tasked with protecting the country against evolving and increasingly complex digital and electronic threats in cyberspace.

A press release from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) stated that DIS consolidates and integrates some of SAF’s existing command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) and cyber capabilities. DIS comprises a Service Headquarters (HQ), selected Joint and Cyber Staff departments, four Commands, and a Digital Ops-Tech Centre.

Joint and Cyber Staff Departments:

Joint Intelligence Directorate (JID): it will support MINDEF/SAF’s decision-making and operations through research and analysis, doctrines, standards, and best practices as well as the integration of intelligence and operations.

Joint Digital and C4 Department (JDCD): it will steer the digitalisation of the SAF by developing digital strategies. It will define and measure digital growth and raise digital literacy to create a digital-ready workforce. It will also partner with the Defence Technology Community (DTC) to drive and develop the technical standards and governance for SAF digital products.

Cyber Staff: the staff will coordinate cybersecurity across the defence sector, developing cyber defence strategies and policies. When required, it will orchestrate capability development for cyber defence and support the Cyber Security Agency (CSA).

DIS Commands and Ops-Tech Centre:

  • Joint Intelligence Command (JIC): it will support MINDEF by providing accurate and relevant intelligence to aid in early warning and decision-making.
  • SAF C4 Command/Cybersecurity Task Force (SAFC4COM/CSTF): it will operate and safeguard C4 capabilities. It will also train and sustain C4 and cyber personnel for SAF.
  • Digital Defence Command (DDC): it will develop electronic protection and psychological defence capabilities to address evolving security challenges. It consists of sub-units, the Electronic Protection Group (EPG) and Psychological Defence Group (PDG), which focus on capability development within their respective domains.
  • DIS Training Command (DTCOM): it is responsible for the development of the DIS workforce, with training schools for vocational and advanced competencies training in intelligence and cyber. It will be established in 2023.
  • Digital Ops-Tech Centre (DOTC): it will enable SAF to develop agile responses to meet changing operational requirements on the digital frontier. It will develop a digital core well-versed in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to sharpen SAF’s operational edge.

During the DIS inauguration, the President, Halimah Yacob, highlighted the importance of the establishment of SAF’s fourth Service amidst fundamental shifts in the global security environment, including threats within the digital domain. She said that the creation of DIS is timely and necessary for SAF to adapt itself to defend Singapore against the security risks that exist in the digital environment. The government has said that DIS will attract and develop both military and non-uniformed digital experts to grow SAF’s digital workforce. DIS was first announced earlier in March by the Minister of Defence, Ng Eng Hen. Brigadier General Lee Yi-Jin will serve as the new Chief of the Digital and Intelligence Service.

Singapore has launched a slew of security, safety and citizen services in efforts to achieve its SMART nation ambitions. In-country students are being taught how to discern online information as part of Cyber Wellness education within the Character and Citizenship Education curriculum, developed by the Ministry of Education.

More recently MAS has proposed regulatory measures to reduce the risk of consumer harm from cryptocurrency trading and to support the development of stablecoins as a credible medium of exchange in the digital asset ecosystem.

Digital transformation and inclusion are key drivers of the country’s economy and social development. As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, Singapore ranked fourth in the most recent edition of the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking. It followed Denmark, the United States, and Sweden.

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