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POINTER Vol.41 No.1
Fires - Tempering of Steel
The RSAF Journey - Voices from the Past Present and Future
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Learning from Mother Nature: Biomimicry for the Next Generation SAF

by MAJ Phua Chao Rong, Charles & ME5 Seah Ser Thong, Calvin

This essay explores the possibilities of Biomimicry and how it can be harnessed by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The usage of metallurgy in modern militaries appears to be devoid of a central essence and is often more a means to an end. Metallurgy works in binary terms; they either destroy or are destroyed, which does not reflect reality and nature’s principles of growth and self-healing. However, the pursuit of biomimicry utilises innovative materials that injects life-like qualities into a weapon. This evolutionary bio-design is present in nature, not as a collection of parts but as a synthesis of a whole. As such, biomimicry may be a paradigm shift after metallurgy, in line with the humanity’s quest of zealous discovery and technological advancement.

The Challenges of Cyber Deterrence

by MAJ Lee Hsiang Wei

In the cyber realm, there are three necessary pillars of cyber defence strategy—a credible defence, an ability to retaliate and a will to retaliate. The concept of cyber deterrence builds upon this strategy to alter an adversary’s actions for fear of an impossible counter-action. Cyber security is an expensive business and is a difficult strategy to achieve. Despite billions of dollars spent on cyber security, it did not stem the rise in cyber-attacks over the past five years. Cyber deterrence is impractical for most nations given today’s technology and the lack of common interpretation of the international law for the cyber domain. This essay presents obstacles such as attribution, diminishing capability to retaliate, unnecessary escalation, involvement of non-state actors and a potential legal issue that make cyber deterrence a less viable strategy to adopt.


Armed Forces and Societies: Implications for the SAF

by CPT Ren Jinfeng

The increasing professionalisation of the armed forces is a challenge to a nation’s defence strategies and the armed forces is forced to adapt to socio-political changes, resulting in increasing inter-penetrability of civilian and military spheres and cultures. As such, the military has to constantly review its structural relationship with society and strategic roles to anchor its legitimacy. Therefore, the SAF must continue to engage the larger civil society in defence policy issues, to encourage a greater sense of co-ownership and to sustain efforts in increasing the ‘social capital’ for the SAF. This essay examines the historical overview of the armed forces in societies, the decline of conscription army during the post-Cold War period and the dominant trend in modern armed forces, as they adapt their roles, to strengthen the linkage to and the legitimacy in the society. This essay also studies the implications of such trends for the SAF. 


Hype or Reality: Putting the Threat of Cyber Attacks in Perspective

by CPT Lim Ming Liang

The potential threat of cyber-attacks has been a subject of concern for military and national security. Especially in the United States, cyber threat is deemed as a crucial problem that could compromise the security of a nation and is regarded as ‘acts of war’. There have been known cases of attacks against religious corporate and government groups—formed by non-state cyber groups—and this has further escalated the need for cyber security. The essay also highlighted various findings that question the plausibility for cyber-attacks to compromise national security. This essay will address the levels and measures of cyber threats, its limitations and the strategies against it, as well as instances of cyber-attacks that were being used against states. It will also address the extent of the damage cyber threats can bring and the viability of its impact on national security.


Contested Territory: Social Media and the Battle for Hearts and Minds

by CPT Lau Jian Sheng

Throughout history, military forces around the world have faced a similar challenge—garnering civilian support for their activities. Militaries are cognisant that their potency rests not only on their offensive capability, but also on the resolute backing of the entire population. Consequently, militaries are compelled to actively secure the wider public’s commitment to defence. This is a vital task even for the world’s most powerful military, the United States. Singapore is no exception. It is likely that the formulation of Total Defence as a security philosophy for Singapore was inspired by earlier models such as Switzerland’s ‘General Defence’ and Austria’s ‘Comprehensive National Defence’. Psychological defence is one of the five pillars of Total Defence. The foundation for this robust pillar of psychological defence has been continual engagement with the populace and the media’s impact on fostering commitment to defence is most critical. Singapore’s defence strategy that e ncompasses c ultivating a national consensus has come under mounting pressure in recent years, with media consumption patterns shifting from the mainstream mass media to online social media. The author concludes that in the long run, it is timely to open up to public dialogue and deeper personal engagement, as in the contest for hearts and minds, a tightfisted regulation of social media may yet win the battle but lose the war.

Last updated on 06 Jul 2015
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