Militaries have to work with other government agencies to fight increasingly complex, transnational and non-conventional threats, Second Minister for Defence Lui Tuck Yew said yesterday.
Delivering the keynote speech at the 17th annual Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers, he said that the Internet has enabled the global spread of radical ideologies such as that espoused by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"Some 30,000 foreign fighters from 90 countries have joined ISIS to date, and the number continues to grow... Alarming inroads have been made (in South-east Asia), with more than 700 Indonesians and over 200 Malaysians joining ISIS," he said.
In February, a Russian security company, Kaspersky Lab, also reported that a hacking ring had stolen up to US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) from more than 100 banks from 30 countries since 2013, added Mr Lui, who is also Minister for Transport.
In this increasingly complex environment, the Singapore Armed Forces, like other militaries, has had to undertake a wider spectrum of operations.
MR LUI TUCK YEW (above), Second Minister for Defence
"In this increasingly complex environment, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), like other militaries, has had to undertake a wider spectrum of operations," he said, adding that these have included roles in maritime security, disaster relief, the fight against ISIS and other counter-terrorism efforts.
Still, the multi-dimensional nature of modern security challenges means that militaries also need to work effectively with other government agencies, he said.
He explained: "Cybercrime and transnational terrorism, for example, involve multiple stakeholders who do not necessarily share convergent goals A one-agency solution would fail, given that it is based on narrow expertise, parochial considerations and may be prone to simplifying assumptions."
He noted that Singapore, for instance, launched the National Maritime Security System, involving five agencies, in 2011 to coordinate efforts against maritime threats. The Republic also set up the Strategic Policy Office last month in the Prime Minister's Office to oversee cross-agency issues.
The event yesterday, held at The Singapore Resort and Spa Sentosa, was organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and its unit, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies.