DoD Stands Down Y2K Operations Center
By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2000 Characterizing the Y2K rollover period as "a remarkably successful weekend," Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre announced Jan. 4 that DoD was standing down its Y2K operations center.
During a Pentagon briefing Hamre said the minor glitches that did occur, combined with a normal start of the business week, makes it unnecessary to continue a full- scale watch on the millennium bug.
"Everything worked fine. We just had a small handful of problems," Hamre said, crediting the "literally tens of thousands of people" involved in making DoD's Y2K repairs during the past two years.
"We had no problems with any of our forces deployed anywhere," Hamre said. "Every one of our commanders in chief reported that they were under positive and affirmative control of their theater throughout the entire rollover period."
Some of the minor glitches Hamre referred to included a "swipe card" not allowing entry to a building, a cash register that did not function at a facility in Okinawa, and some computers that did not automatically convert to the year 2000 - a problem that was solved simply by rebooting the computers. He said the glitches were no more significant than a local dry cleaner not being able to get his or her computer working.
Except for a reconnaissance satellite, "nothing had any operational implication," Hamre said. As he had reported in previous briefings during the holiday weekend, Hamre again explained that a satellite-based intelligence system experienced a Y2K failure shortly after the rollover of Greenwich Mean Time. The failure meant that intelligence officials were unable to process information from the system for two to three hours.
Hamre said the problem was not with the satellite itself, but on the ground in a processing station, and emphasized that within several hours a back-up system was in place and operational.
"We had a minor loss of the normal sequence of things we observe on an ongoing basis from this asset," Hamre said. "It was not judged to be significant in quantitative terms and it was not judged to be significant for military terms because the backup system took care of all our high- priority military requirements."
Although not surprised DoD sailed through the Y2K rollover period without serious problems, Hamre said the Pentagon had anticipated more people would try to use the time period to attempt to hack into DoD computer networks.
DoD is standing down its Y2K operations center for now, but Hamre said it may have to be re-energized at the end of February, when computer systems go through the leap year transition. Disruptions are possible if systems have not been programmed to recognize 2000 is a leap year.
But Hamre believes that scenario is unlikely. "If there was going to be problem that showed up, it really would have showed up at this window," he said.