The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be setting up the Digital and Intelligence Service, or DIS, to strengthen Singapore’s defence against threats in the digital domain. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen announced this in his Committee of Supply (COS) speech on the defence budget on 2 Mar. As the cybersphere continues to grow, threats from the digital domain are also increasing in sophistication and numbers, said Dr Ng. There has also been evidence of countries and non-state entities such as terrorist groups launching attacks across both the physical and digital spheres.
Dr Ng explained: “The addition of this fourth Service, the DIS, will allow the SAF to better train and fight as a networked, integrated and expanded force to deal with (not only) the spectrum of threats that we know exist today, but also the digital domain that we know will increase in the future. Figuratively, if the digital force is now a battalion force, we actually need a few brigades, perhaps even a Division-size force.”
The DIS is expected to be set up by the last quarter of 2022. The DIS is the next step in the development of the Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Community. The SAF has been progressively building up its C4I networks and systems since the inauguration of the C4I community in 2012. This was followed by the establishment of the Defence Cyber Organisation in 2017, which coordinates cybersecurity across the defence sector.
DIS soldiers will require specialisations not only in core IT areas and communications but also in diverse areas including data science, psychology, linguistics, anthropology and geography, to enable them to understand the motivation and means behind attacks by state and non-state groups. While the skillsets required of DIS personnel will be different from those fighting in the physical domains, they must have the same traits and values as their Army, Navy and Air Force counterparts, such as resilience and “a commitment to the shared mission to enhance Singapore’s security and peace”.