The U.S. Air Force has designated six cyber tools as weapons, which should help the programs compete for increasingly scarce dollars in the Pentagon budget, an Air Force official said on Monday.
Lieutenant General John Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, which oversees satellite and cyberspace operation, said the new designations would help normalize military cyber operations as the U.S. military works to keep up with rapidly changing threats in the newest theater of war.
“This means that the game-changing capability that cyber is is going to get more attention and the recognition that it deserves,” Hyten told a cyber conference held in conjunction with the National Space Syposium in Colorado Springs.
Hyten’s remarks came a month after U.S. intelligence officials warned that cyber attacks have supplanted terrorism as the top threat to the country. Spending on cyber security programs has gone up in recent years, but may face pressure given mandatory across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon’s planned spending on military equipment, programs and staff.
Hyten said the recent decision by Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh to designate certain cyber tools as weapons would help ensure funding.