The US Air Force has established a provisional Cyber Command as part of an expanding mission to prepare for wars in cyberspace, officials said.
The move comes amid concerns over a wave of hacker attacks originating in China against western governments and a crippling attack in May against Estonia amid a dispute with Russia.
Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne announced on Tuesday, the creation of the new command at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where the air force's existing cyber warfare operations are centered.
Officials said the provisional command will pave the way within a year for the creation of the air force's first major command devoted to cyberwarfare operations.
The full Air Force Cyber Command "will train and equip forces to conduct sustained global operations in and through cyberspace, fully integrated with air and space operations," said Major General Charles Ickes.
The US 8th Air Force, headquartered at Barksdale, will continue to conduct day-to-day cyber operations until the Cyber Command is fully operational, officials said.
Skilled hackers can exploit weaknesses in computer networks to steal or change information, cripple them with viruses or overwhelm them with masses of data.
The mass attacks on Estonia in May shut down government websites, banks, schools and other institutions.
The US military has recognised the potential for cyberwarfare at least since the late-1990s when officials acknowledge launching offensive electronic attacks against Yugoslavia during a NATO air war over Kosovo.