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Computing

Y2K could bug national security

graphic
 ALSO
Can health care inoculate itself from the Y2K bug?
RELATED VIDEO
CNN's Kate Snow reports on the military's Y2K readiness.
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March 24, 1999
Web posted at: 3:52 a.m. EST (0852 GMT)

From CNN Correspondent Kate Snow

(CNN) - All over the world, U.S. soldiers are training to fight an invisible enemy. It's an enemy without an army, weapons or even spies. The vast complex of military computers that helps organize and mobilize U.S. forces has been undergoing testing to make sure they do not fall victim to the millennium bug.

Over several days in March, the U.S.S. Constellation and 15 other warships tested their Y2K readiness as a battle group and reported only minor glitches.

Captain Tim Traverso, the Pacific Fleet Y2K Director, says during the exercise there were only two anomalies out of a possible 100.

But things haven't always looked so good. According to Rep. Steve Horn, Chairman of the Y2K Task Force, earlier claims concerning military Y2K readiness were not always accurate.

"That was about six or eight months ago. We did send the General Accounting Office over to the Pentagon and sorted it all out. Yes, there was some game playing at that time but it hasn't occurred since and I don't think it will occur ever again," he said.

The Defense Department admits it got a late start on the Y2K issue. But officials there say that since last summer they've made significant progress. The military does promise to be ready when the New Year arrives. In fact, Pentagon officials say they expect to have about 90 percent of their mission critical systems Y2K ready by March 31.

At the top of the priority list are nuclear weapons.

Officials say the Y2K bug will not fire missiles accidentally or cause false alarms.

In February, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spent two weeks testing its early warning systems and says it found no Y2K problems. U.S. officials say they believe Russia will be able to control its nuclear arsenal, too.

The bigger worry is that Russian military computers could crash, cutting off controllers from vital information. The U.S. has offered to share data from its early warning systems at a special center near Colorado Springs during the transition to 2000.

Pentagon officials say other nuclear powers don't even keep their missiles armed so there's little chance they could launch an attack by accident.



RELATED STORIES:
DOD confirms cyberattack 'something new'
March 6, 1999
U.S./Russian Y2K center to avoid nuclear exchange
March 4, 1999
Y2K failures abroad threaten U.S. security
March 1, 1999
Russia/U.S. military meet on Y2K weapons issues
February 22, 1999
Y2K problems could close Defense Dept. chemical plant
January 11, 1999

RELATED SITES:
The President's Council on Y2K Conversion
North American Aerospace Defense Command
US Department of Defense
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