General William Shelton, commander of the US Air Force Space Command, told reporters in a press briefing for the Defense Writers Group that he believes Iran's growing "cyber" capabilities will be a "force to be reckoned with," thanks in part to Iran's response to the Stuxnet attacks on its nuclear facilities in 2010.
"It's clear that the Natanz situation generated reaction by them," Shelton told reporters, referring to the nuclear facility where Stuxnet crippled centrifuges. "They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the potential capabilities that they will develop over the years and the potential threat that will represent to the United States."
Shelton, who oversees the Air Force's own cyberwarfare operations, the 24th Air Force, is pushing for more expansion of Air Force communications. Current plans from the Defense Department's Cyber Command—the joint command responsible for coordinating the military's offensive and defensive network operations—call for an additional 1,000 civilian employees to the Air Force's network operations and security workforce over the next two years. The Air Force's "cyber professionals" currently number about 6,000.