U.S. Air Force Designates Six Cyber Tools as "Weapons"

Mike O'Brien

Six cyber capabilities have been designated as weapons by the U.S. Air Force.

Lieutenant General John Hyten said that officially designating the tools should help the programs compete for funding in the ever-decreasing Pentagon budget.

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He said the Air Force was raising its profile in the newest theater of war and was planning to expand its cyber workforce of about 6,000 by 1,200 people.

Mr. Hyten would not specifically name the weapons when he made the announcement on Monday in Colorado Springs.

But he said: "This means that the game-changing capability that cyber is, is going to get more attention and the recognition that it deserves."

Mr. Hyten is the vice commander of Air Force Space Command, which oversees satellite and cyberspace operations.

He said the Air Force is now working to improve integration of its cyber capabilities with other weapons.

On the question of funding, he said: "It's very, very hard to compete for resources ... You have to be able to make that case."

U.S. intelligence officials warned last month that cyber attacks have now overtaken terrorism as the top threat to the country, Reuters reports.

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While spending on cyber security has increased in recent years it is feared it may be subject to a budget squeeze in the near future.

The Air Force must act fast to stay ahead in the cyber race."We have to do this quickly. We cannot wait. If we just let decades go by, the threat will pass us screaming by," Mr. Hyten added.

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