Keeping Singaporeans safe from external and internal threats
Singapore’s peace rests on the twin pillars of our defence policy of deterrence and diplomacy. Our long-term and sustained investment in defence and security has kept Singaporeans safe from external threats. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is an operationally ready force which enjoys high and stable public confidence. Through Total Defence, Singaporeans play their part in building a strong, secure, and cohesive nation.
The Home Team works with Singaporeans to keep our neighbourhoods safe. Singapore was ranked the safest nation in the world by Gallup’s Global Law and Order Index for the seventh consecutive year in 2020 and has the second lowest fire fatality rate in a global ranking of cities by the World Fire Statistics 2020. However, the rise in scam cases is a concern. New initiatives such as the Singapore Police Force (SPF)’s Anti-Scam Centre have helped disrupt many scam operations, enhance deterrence, and mitigate victims’ losses.
The number of drug abusers arrested remained stable. The Central Narcotics Bureau continued to mount intensive enforcement efforts against drug trafficking and has also stepped up efforts on preventive drug education and outreach.
The overall recidivism rate among ex-offenders also remained low and stable, as they benefit from rehabilitation and community supervision programmes.
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Building a strong SAF and Home Team, enhancing our digital defence
The SAF continues to be the guarantor of Singapore’s peace and security. This has allowed us to prosper as a key aviation, maritime, and financial hub. Amidst the ever-evolving threat landscape, Singapore has adopted a whole-of-government approach to strengthen our homeland security against an expanded array of conventional and non-conventional threats and contingencies:
- The SAF has been working closely with the Home Team to enhance maritime security to better deal with resurgent threats, such as recent sea robberies in the Singapore Strait.
- The SAF, the Ministry of Transport, the SPF, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and the National Security Coordination Centre work closely to detect potential air threats and respond swiftly to defend our skies.
- To bolster our counter-terrorism capabilities, the SAF’s Special Operations Command Centre was commissioned in December 2019 to plan, monitor, and manage multiple counter-terrorism and contingency operations. The SAF and the Home Team also work closely with other agencies to jointly plan and conduct exercises for the protection of key infrastructure and large-scale events, such as the National Day Parade.
Over the years, the SAF and the Home Team have leveraged technology as a force multiplier, enabling us to operate more effectively while keeping our service personnel safe:
- The SAF has acquired modern and multi-role platforms, such as the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport which can provide air-to-air refuelling and be equipped with medical equipment for aero-medical evacuation. It is also designing and manufacturing advanced capabilities, such as the Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle and the upcoming Multi-Role Combat Vessel. Through these, the SAF has maintained its capability edge in war fighting while retaining flexibility for multiple mission sets, including to safeguard our external lines of communication.
- Customised unmanned solutions such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)’s Remote-Operated Underwater Vehicle help with search and recovery during maritime accidents, while drones enhance the SPF’s ground operations by providing an aerial perspective of the area of operations.
To ensure that our forces remain operationally ready to protect our peace and security, backend capabilities are being strengthened and new capabilities added:
- Operational improvements such as the Army Integrated Force Preparation Hub have reduced the time needed to equip National Servicemen by up to a third.
- Progressive automation of immigration clearance at our checkpoints, which saw over 217 million travellers passing through in 2019, allows officers to focus on profiling and detecting potential threats and undesirables.
Digital Defence has also been added to the Total Defence framework and our cyber defences enhanced:
- The Defence Cyber Security Centre has been operationalised to enable an effective and coordinated response to cyber incidents across the defence sector.
- New threats are dealt with through measures such as the use of “+” prefix to identify foreign calls and the blocking of foreign calls with commonly spoofed numbers like 999 and 995.
- The risk of hacking of our personal identities for illegal gains and scams has been reduced, with solutions such as SingPass and MyInfo which Singaporeans can use to access over 300 digital services across 110 public agencies and commercial entities, such as insurance companies.
- We also play an important part in Digital Defence. Initiatives such as the S.U.R.E. (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate) programme and Lab on Wheels help Singaporeans raise their information literacy and better understand digital threats. Information literacy has also been introduced into the school curriculum and Basic Military Training.
Enhancing NS and engendering support for NS
Our National Servicemen continue to form the backbone of the SAF and the Home Team and have been taking on new and expanded roles:
- National Servicemen currently operate the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on board the missile corvettes, a role previously undertaken only by Regulars.
- National Servicemen with relevant and important niche civilian expertise have been deployed as cyber defenders.
- The SPF’s Special Operations Command deploys its National Servicemen as Public Order Troops for various operations, such as anti-crime patrols and security for major events. 1,500 SPF National Servicemen from the Community Engagement Task Force are also now deployed to educate residents about SGSecure and crime prevention.
- The SCDF has restructured its Rescue Battalions, enabling more focused training and flexible deployment of National Servicemen to different incidents.
Addressing threats through community partnership
More Singaporeans are stepping up to play a bigger role in our defence and security:
- Singaporeans are contributing directly, with 16,500 volunteers in the SAF Volunteer Corps, the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit, the Volunteer Special Constabulary, and other Home Team volunteer schemes.
- There is also greater community involvement in SGSecure and emergency preparedness training. Today, six in 10 residents are familiar with at least one emergency preparedness skill, such as improvised first aid and the application of CPR-AED.
- More than 2,000 grassroots and resident volunteers in the Community Emergency Response Team will be better equipped with the knowledge and skills to increase their level of preparedness.