ad info
   middle east

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards





World - Middle East

Israeli military confronts new foe: Y2K

High-tech armies rely on computers to guide them through battles

CNN's Walter Rodgers looks at the measures Israel's military is taking to deal with the Y2K bug
Windows Media 28K 80K

March 31, 1999
Web posted at: 11:04 p.m. EST (0404 GMT)

IN THE JUDEAN DESERT (CNN) -- The Israeli military is among the most high-tech in the world, and its modern weaponry and communications abilities help it maintain its military superiority in the volatile Middle East.

Field commanders keep track of their troops -- and the enemy's -- with the help of computer-driven global positioning satellites (GPS). Tank commanders rely on laptop computers to guide them through the chaos of battle. Computer systems position the air force's advanced fighter planes.

All of this lends urgency to the Israeli Defense Forces' efforts to make sure that those systems aren't put out of commission by a Y2K-type computer bug.

"The Israeli army is a very, very high-tech army, so the problem is there and we have to deal with it," said Lt. Col. Dror Margalite. "If we weren't so high-tech, I believe the problem would be a minor problem."

The Israeli defense forces have been wrestling with the Y2K problem since 1994, and they don't underestimate it. Israeli officers say privately that they are not sure wars can be fought today without the high-tech tools the military has come to depend on.

The problem arises because many older computer systems record dates using only the last two digits of the year. If left uncorrected, such systems could treat the year 2000 as the year 1900, generating errors or system crashes on January 1.

Hi Tech
Thousands of lines of computer code must be replaced to prevent a system breakdown  

Military experts say that some computer systems could crash as early as this summer, when thousands of lines of computer code must be replaced in airplanes, missiles and tanks to prevent a GPS system breakdown. Such a breakdown could occur as early as mid-August.

Privately there is even more uncertainty, because despite massive computer testing, no one is sure when the problem will hit.

"We must check it on 9 September '99," said Col. Miri Kadmiel, the head of the IDF's computer section. "It's ... 9/9/99, so it's in some programs as the end of the world."

Whatever Israel's level of preparedness, it appears to be far ahead of its neighbors. A U.N. official said earlier this year that few of the Middle East's Arab states had thought about the problem, let alone drawn up plans to avoid it.

Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers contributed to this report.

Looking at the Y2K Bug

Israeli Arabs, Palestinians protest on annual Land Day
March 30, 1999
EU supports Palestinian statehood
March 26, 1999
Arafat wants to revive Mideast peace process
February 3, 1999
Netanyahu vows to extend Israeli control if Palestinians declare statehood
January 10, 1999
Arafat, Netanyahu, Clinton gather to seek Mideast peace
December 15, 1998
Israelis, Palestinians, continue land-for-peace talks
November 17, 1998

RELATED SITES: Year 2000 World
Palestinian Ministry Of Information Homepage
Palestinian National Authority Official Website
Palestinian Information Center
The Mideast Peace Process
Quest for Peace
Office of the Israeli Prime Minister
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.