MINDEF – Singapore Armed Forces

An Anchor of Singapore’s Cyber Defence

While the army defends our land, the navy our seas, and the airforce our skies, cyber experts like Military Expert 4A Anakin Seek protect us from digital threats. And just like any frontline combatant, he has found his sense of purpose, thrill and fulfillment in his journey with the Singapore Armed Forces.

A transformative NS experience and his father’s advice showed Military Expert 4A (ME4A) Anakin Seek the way forward.

When he first enlisted with the Singapore Army as a recruit, ME4A Seek doubted his own ability to contribute effectively to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). But things changed for him after being made to step out of his comfort zone during his National Service days. Today, he is proud to be pursuing the Business (Business Analytics) and Computing (Computer Science) programme at NTU under the new C4X scheme after being awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship. The Command, Control, Communications, Computers Experts (C4X) develop digital solutions and defend against cyber threats in the digital domain for the SAF.

This digital battlefield requires our DIS personnel to be equipped with skillsets to defend against potential adversaries who employ sophisticated means to disrupt our digital services and cripple our nation. ME4A Seek intends to use his expertise and technical skills to combat potential threats to the SAF, and preserve Singaporeans’ way of life.

Gaining Inspiration

So, why did the self-confessed “giant nerd” decide to serve with the SAF? ME4A Seek credits his unlikely career choice to his father’s words.

“My father has been in the IT field for over 20 years and has a good understanding of the demands of the market,” he recalled. “He assured me that having experience working as a cyber security expert in an organisation with security as an utmost priority would be a great opportunity and learning experience.”

“That, coupled with SAF’s sterling reputation in managing the welfare and personal growth of their employees, gave me confidence in my ability to grow in the SAF.”

His own NS experience convinced him further. “Although I found the time I spent in my NS unit to be one of the hardest periods of my life thus far, I was able to grow a lot as a person due to my experience there.”

“When I mentioned that my NS experience was a catalyst in my signing on, I do not mean that it gave me a surge of patriotism or a profound love for the SAF, rather it was that I grew to be a much more confident and mature person after those two years,” he explained. “I was then thrown out of my comfort zone, trying to get work done even with changing SOPs and unmotivated full-time National Servicemen (NSFs), the fact that I was able to complete my NS journey successfully was a huge boost to my self-confidence.”

“Four years ago, when I was a recruit, I would have severely doubted my ability to succeed and thrive in the SAF. However, I now believe that I have it in me to contribute and grow in this organisation,” he added.

“Four years ago, when I was a recruit, I would have severely doubted my ability to contribute effectively to the SAF. However, I now believe that I have it in me to contribute and grow in this organisation.” Military Expert 4A (ME4A) Anakin Seek

A Strong Sense of Purpose

With his newfound self-confidence, ME4A Seek was ready to take on a double degree in a prestigious university while fulfilling his military duties as well.

As a Military Expert 4A, he was posted to the Cyber Defence Group (CDG) under SAF’s new 4th service, the Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS), to gain a deeper understanding of cyber defence operations. Here, he received hands-on training about what it means to be a military cyber specialist through mentorship of senior MEs.

“The most fulfilling part about being in C4X, is that we are almost always active,” ME4A Seek said. “The cyber threats that we have to deal with are clear and present and will threaten our nation’s security.”

This imbued a deep sense of purpose in him, as he understood that his actions help to safeguard Singapore. Furthermore, as a SAF Merit Scholar, ME4A Seek was aware that much was expected of him.

“Recipients of the SAF Merit Scholarship can look forward to opportunities that would guide them to grow not only as a domain expert, but also a better leader to contribute more effectively to the SAF,” he emphasised.

Cyber training during Officer Cadet School (OCS) provided him with realistic training. Cadets were empowered to employ various cyber tools and write their own programmes to solve the challenging problems presented to them. The cyber training programme catered to the varying degrees of experience and expertise in cadets.

Focused on the Future

While the requirement to be multifaceted may be challenging for some, ME4A Seek is in his element. He loves learning about the various systems in the SAF and putting his skills to use in real-world scenarios.

But he is determined to go further. “I have two very broad goals for my SAF journey. The first is to ensure that my time in the SAF will be fulfilling – I hope that I can contribute effectively to the organisation.”

“The second is to grow as a domain expert, leader, and person, so that I can better make decisions so that I may contribute to building a better foundation for DIS, especially in its pioneering years.”

These may sound like lofty ambitions, but ME4A Seek is confident that he can make them come true with the SAF. “SAF takes special care in making sure welfare is taken care of. The morale and mental health of our soldiers are often taken as their commander’s responsibility, and commanders are expected to maintain it.”

“Being in the SAF is thus both technical and people-centric. If you were to work in the SAF, do not expect yourself to stay face-to-face with a monitor during office hours, as much of it is often spent interfacing with your superiors or subordinates.”

Forging Forward

When asked about the qualities that are needed to excel in this field, ME4A Seek said, “When faced with a challenging or unfamiliar problem, you should never just roll over and accept that it’s too difficult for you. A sense of pride in your ability can drive you to put in the extra hours and drive you to make sure you will never encounter a problem that you cannot solve.”