MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore has officially inaugurated its fourth military branch as it seeks to combat modern threats in the digital domain, as well as leverage emerging technologies in this domain.
The new Digital and Intelligence Service, or DIS, was unveiled in an Oct. 28 ceremony attended by President Halimah Yacob and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. The government announcement in March that it would create the new service.
Its first commanding officer is Brig. Gen. Lee Yi-Jin, who has held command appointments with infantry and artillery units and was previously the director of military intelligence for Singapore’s command, control, communications, computers and intelligence community.
The DIS will more tightly integrate the Singaporean military’s capabilities to deal with a range of security threats, including those from the digital domain. It includes a service headquarters, a joint intelligence directorate, a joint digital and C4 organization, and cyber staff departments.
The intel directorate will support Singaporean military decision-making and operations through research and analysis, doctrines, standards, and best practices as well as the integration of intelligence and operations. The combined digital and C4 unit is tasked with steering Singapore’s military into the digital age by developing a digital strategy, master plan and resource governance.
Meanwhile, the cyber staff will lead and coordinate cybersecurity across Singapore’s defense sector, developing cyber defense strategies and policies as well as orchestrating capability development.
The DIS will also have four separate commands, plus a digital operations technology center. The four commands are tasked with joint intelligence, C4 cybersecurity, digital defense and training. The center is aimed at providing several capabilities to the entire military, equipping the country with a quick-response force to meet needs in the digital domain and developing a core of personnel skilled in data science and artificial intelligence.
The Defence Ministry said in an earlier news release that the DIS will focus on realizing the full potential of emerging digital technology in areas like cloud computing, data science and AI.
The country also plans to establish a dedicated cyber range to train personnel on simulated “cyber terrain,” which includes enterprise information systems and critical infrastructure systems. The range is also expected to host bilateral and multilateral exercises, bringing together militaries, businesses and academia “to share best practices, insights and knowledge.”
Defense News asked for funding information and procurement plans related to DIS, but the government decline to comment.
The Southeast Asian island of Singapore is a regional commercial and financial hub. Its local governments and businesses having been the targets of cyberattacks.
Benjamin Ang, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said digital threats to the nation include data breaches, cyberespionage, denial-of-service attacks, ransomware and data wiping disguised as ransomware, and hostile information campaigns.
In an email to Defense News, he also flagged potential threats to the local supply chain by disrupting hardware, software or services, which “can come from different sources, ranging from rogue nations who use cybercrime to fund their states, and organized crime groups, to hostile nonstate groups and extremists.”
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.