While the SAF has built up capabilities in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) in its three existing services – Army, Navy, and Air Force – Dr Ng said the C4I community’s role has been largely that of a “supporting agency”, akin to combat support, logistics and maintenance.
With growing use of disinformation in warfare and cyber threats, Dr Ng said the SAF needs a dedicated service to raise, train and sustain cyber troops and capabilities to defend Singapore’s digital borders.
“We are thankful that hitherto, our intelligence agencies have not detected any campaign against Singapore of that nature in the digital domain,” said Dr Ng.
“But we should not wait for one and it would be prudent to start and build up the fourth service. That alone would serve as a deterrent.”
He added that the DIS will ensure that Singapore is defended against the full spectrum of threats against potential aggressors.
“The digital environment is more porous than the physical one, but the DIS will be responsible to guard against these aggressors in that domain,” he said.
For the SAF, the DIS will protect its networks and systems and strengthen soldiers’ commitment and resilience in operations. It will also continue to provide accurate, relevant and timely intelligence to support SAF operations, and capitalise on cutting-edge digital technologies to advance the SAF’s digitalisation as a networked force.
As for threats to Singapore’s internal environment, it will work closely with the Home Team, Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and other national agencies to leverage on their strengths in Singapore’s digital defence.
This is similar to the SAF’s support to the whole- of-government for counter-terrorism, said Dr Ng.
SAFEGUARDS AGAINST ABUSE
During the debate on the SAF Bill, several Members of Parliament (MPs) raised concerns such as whether safeguards are in place to protect against abuse of powers and information leaks that could compromise national security.
In particular, MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) and MP Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang) asked if foreigners could be part of the DIS.
Responding to their questions, Dr Ng said:…