High-level panel to be formed to build integrated cyber force: Ng
It will defend Singapore's digital borders, says Defence Minister
A high-level committee will be formed to build an integrated cyber force to defend Singapore against cyber threats, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.
This committee - led by the permanent secretary for defence development and the Chief of Defence Force (CDF) - will be examining ways to "recruit soldiers of the right aptitude, training and deployments", he added.
Dr Ng said: "In the SAF's history, this is as important as raising another service, just like the army, navy and air force, namely to build an integrated cyber command and force to defend our digital borders, especially against foreign cyber actors, both state and non-state, who seek to undermine our stability and/or pose a threat to our national security."
This Singapore Armed Forces cyber command will have to provide threat assessments and early warning against cyber attacks, and respond accordingly, he said.
Speaking during the debate on his ministry's annual spending plans, Dr Ng highlighted three "clear and present" security threats - those in the cyber domain, as well as maritime threats and terrorism.
He noted that Singapore has succeeded in building a strong SAF that is recognised as a modern and professional military force capable of defending the national interest, because of steadfast commitment by successive governments and overwhelming support from MPs across party lines for each defence budget.
"Even so, to respond to a new environment of security challenges, the SAF must again restructure decisively to meet new challenges, to remain relevant, responsive, and effective for our national defence," Dr Ng said.
He made the point that in many aspects, it is more difficult to plan and execute plans in the cyber domain than in the air, land and sea, and different types of units and force configuration may be required.
After the restructuring, which Dr Ng said will take "some years" to accomplish, the CDF will continue to be in charge of mission outcomes for the new cyber command.
The Chief C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) will lead this force and report directly to the CDF.
Besides this new cyber command, Dr Ng said the Singapore navy's Maritime Security Task Force will acquire new purpose-built platforms that can enhance its capabilities to deal with threats such as the recent spike in sea robberies and intrusions.
The SAF is also restructuring its military intelligence outfits so that counter-terrorism intelligence to detect, forewarn and respond to terrorist plots are now part and parcel of its core mission to protect Singapore, he said.
Mindef yesterday said one area of focus for the military intelligence restructuring is in building capabilities - to work with defence technology partners to acquire systems that can uncover, investigate and monitor threat concerns.
Another area is in strengthening partnerships, by working closely with other national agencies as well as foreign military intelligence partners, it added.