April 9, 2013
US Air Force Adds New Weapons To Their Cyber Arsenal
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
As the Stuxnet attack against an Iranian nuclear reactor has shown, modern warfare can be carried out on digital networks as well as on the battlefield. The US Air Force has likely realized this and is now designated six new cyber weapons. And according to Reuters, the Air Force will now use this expanded class of weapons to try to attract extra cash to their weapons budget.
In a recent conference held in Colorado Springs, Lieutenant General John Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, explained that these new distinctions will make cyber operations a part of everyday procedure and prepare them for these kinds of attacks.
"This means that the game-changing capability that cyber is is going to get more attention and the recognition that it deserves (sic)," said Hyten, according to Reuters. The National Space Symposium also took part in the Colorado conference.
"It's very, very hard to compete for resources. ... You have to be able to make that case."
Hyten offered no other details about the six tools which have been granted weapon status, only mentioning that the Air Force plans to integrate them with existing weaponry.
Now that they have the tools needed to compete on a cyber battleground, the Air Force will begin looking for troops to carry out this warfare. Hyten explained that his branch of the military will now be looking to boost their cyber workforce by 20 percent, boosting the total number of these soldiers to just over seven thousand, including an additional 900 military personnel.
"We have to do this quickly. We cannot wait. If we just let decades go by, the threat will pass us screaming by," said Hyten.
The Lieutenant General´s comments come at a very important time in the evolution of the US military, as cyber attacks are becoming an increasingly dangerous threat to national security.
The Obama Administration has been keeping a close eye on cyber attacks from around the globe, specifically China. Two months ago, US Intelligence officials released the National Intelligence Estimate, a report which represents the consensus view of the intelligence community. In it, the federal government claims that China is the country most actively targeting US companies in acts of economic espionage.
While France, Israel and Russia were also found targeting American companies, none were as aggressive as China. An earlier report also showed that President Obama now has the authority to order a preemptive cyber strike against any country that he believes may be about to launch a digital attack against the US.
Hyten also claimed that the Air Force is trying to leverage the investments already made for cyber security by the private sector but later noted that the Air Force needs to improve their offerings before they can expect to work with these larger companies.
"We have to bring resources to the table," he said in closing. “They don't stay in business by doing things for free."