March 14, 2018

Hedgehog Meets Dolphin: Can Estonia Adopt Singapore’s Secret Weapon—Defence Innovation?

Due to their limited human and natural resources, both Estonia and Singapore have become particularly open to technological development and innovation, the latter constantly ranked among the top innovators in the world (sixth in both the Global Innovation Index 2016 and the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2017).

However, significantly more than Estonia, Singapore has also realised the need to incorporate innovation into the defence sector. Most importantly, the Singaporeans have recognised that, instead of relying on numbers, their strongest basis to be competitive is to rely on knowledge, intelligence, information and technology. Integrated advanced military technologies constitute Singapore’s primary force multipliers enabling it to deal with both existing and future security threats under the so-called “dolphin” posture.

This analysis introduces Singapore’s strategic thinking and the distinctive policy frameworks it has relied on to shape defence innovation. While giving an overview of the current status of defence innovation in Estonia, it also points out three key takeaways for Estonia from the concepts and ideas applied in Singapore: First, the importance of embedding defence innovation in the overall organisational framework of national defence; second, exploiting defence innovation to enhance deterrence, and the need to provide financial and moral support to defence innovation community. While seeking to evolve into a highly innovative defence ecosystem, it might be useful to adopt a different metaphor for the future defence posture of Estonia—morphing from a humble “hedgehog” into someone more agile, stealthy and deadly—a lynx, perhaps.

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