Singapore, U.S. enhance defense cooperation in cyberspace

The Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning cooperation in cyberspace with the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense on 20 August 2021. 

The MOU, signed by Chief of Defense Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Melvyn Ong with Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John Aquilino and Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command General Paul Nakasone, would institutionalize cyber cooperation between the two defense establishments. Such cooperation and engagements are professionally valuable, help to build mutual understanding and facilitate info-sharing and collaboration between trusted partners in capacity-building efforts.

The conclusion of the MOU was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on August 23 during a joint press conference, as part of a suite of deliverables between Singapore and the U.S., which saw the expansion of bilateral cybersecurity cooperation with the conclusion of three MOUs between MINDEF/SAF, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and their respective US counterparts. Vice President Harris is in Singapore on an official visit from 22 to 24 August 2021. 

Highlighting the significance of MINDEF/SAF’s MOU, LG Ong said, “This MOU on cyberspace cooperation between Singapore and US defense establishments is an important step in formalizing our cyber cooperation, and a reflection of our continued commitment to expand our defenze collaboration in more areas. We look forward to cooperating with the US in this complex cybersecurity landscape”.

The defense establishments of Singapore and the US enjoy extensive interactions, including dialogues, military-to-military exchanges, training and cross-attendance of courses, and technology cooperation. 

The Singapore-US defense relationship is anchored by the 1990 MOU Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement which recognized Singapore as a Major Security Cooperation Partner, and the 2015 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which expanded collaboration across traditional and non-conventional security areas and laid out new areas of cooperation including in cyber defense and biosecurity. The 2019 Protocol of Amendment to the 1990 MOU extends the U.S. forces’ access to Singapore’s military facilities for another 15 years.

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