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US Air Force reclassifies 6 cyber tools as weapons

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The US Air Force has classified six cyber tools as weapons to help them compete for scarce funding from the Pentagon's budget, an official has said.

Lieutenant General John Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, didn't give any details on the new cyber weapons, but said that redesignation would help the military's cyber operations.

"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 Symposium, according to Reuters.

"It's very, very hard to compete for resources ... You have to be able to make that case," he added.

Cyber security is increasingly seen as a top priority in national security, but the across the board budget cuts known as sequestration have taken chunks out of all planned US government spending.

Hyten said that it took the Air Force years to persuade the government about the importance of the space-based assets for warfare, but it didn't have that kind of time when it comes to cybersecurity.

"We have to do this quickly. We cannot wait. If we just let decades go by, the threat will pass us screaming by," he said.

He also said the Air Force was planning to expand its cyber unit of 6,000 employees by 1,200 people, including 900 military personnel and better integrate cyber capabilities with other weapons. ®

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