The Defense Department is establishing a series of cyber teams charged with carrying out offensive operations to combat the threat of an electronic assault on the United States.

Gen. Keith Alexander told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 13 cyber teams are being formed for the mission of guarding the nation in cyberspace, said AP. "He described them as 'defend-the-nation' teams but stressed their role would be offensive," AP said.  He also said another 27 cyber teams are being established to support the military's warfighting commands while others will protect Defense Department's computer systems and data.

He also pushed lawmakers to pass cybersecurity legislation that would make it easier for the government and the private sector to share detailed information about who is getting hacked and what to do about it, said AP.

The general also told the committee that there needs to be a clear consensus on how the nation is organized to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. "It takes a team to operate in cyberspace," Alexander said in the AP report. "But at times I think in talking about the team approach, we're not clear on who's in charge when."

Another issue that still needs to be settled is what constitutes an act of war in cyberspace, Alexander said. He does not consider cyberespionage and the theft of a corporation's intellectual property to be acts of war. But Alexander said, "I think you've crossed the line" if the intent is to disrupt or destroy U.S. infrastructure, said AP.