The Digital Domain has grown into a full-fledged arena of conflict and contestation. Digital threats that emanate in the digital domain can readily impact events in the physical world. MINDEF/SAF has made progress over the past decade in building organisational structures and manpower capabilities in Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I), and cybersecurity.
Yet, digital threats against the defence of Singapore continue to grow in scale, sophistication and organisation. The logical next step is to evolve the C4I community into a dedicated Service. The addition of this fourth Service, the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS), will allow the SAF to better train and fight as a networked and integrated force to deal with the spectrum of external threats that we know exist today and will continue to increase over time.
Evolution of C4I Community
Since its inauguration in 2012, the C4I community has made progress to enhance the resilience of the SAF's networks and systems. In 2017, the Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO) was formed to lead and coordinate MINDEF/SAF's cybersecurity efforts across the defence clusters. Besides safeguarding MINDEF/SAF's systems, DCO also worked closely with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore to provide cyber expertise and resources to support response and recovery operations in the event of a national crisis. Over the years, the C4I community was involved in a myriad of SAF operations, which include the deployment of imagery analysis teams to the Middle East in 2015. To further bolster efforts to develop a world-class cyber C4I workforce, the Cyber NSF scheme and C4 Expert vocation were later introduced in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Timeline of Key Milestones of SAF C4I Developments
Establishment of the Digital and Intelligence Service
The establishment of the DIS will allow the SAF to be better prepared and be more effective in defending Singapore and Singaporeans. The DIS will more tightly integrate the SAF's capabilities across the Services to deal with a spectrum of security threats, including those from the digital domain. At the same time, the DIS will have the dedicated focus to realise the full potential of emerging digital technology such as Cloud, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. This will accelerate the SAF's Next Generation transformation efforts.
The DIS will retain and continue (i) to provide accurate, relevant and timely early warning and operational intelligence; and (ii) advance C4 connectivity for the SAF to operate as a networked force. In addition, it will also be (iii) responsible for digital defence of the SAF through cyber defence and electronic protection of our networks and systems, and psychological defence to strengthen our servicemen's commitment and resilience in operations.
Growing and nurturing human resource is also important. To that end, having a Service status will allow the DIS to grow its digital and intelligence workforce by enhancing professional development, recruitment and career prospects considerably.