Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen Briefing on Y2K
(Also participating in this briefing was Admiral Richard W. Mies, Commander in Chief, U.S. Strategic Command, Mr. Peter Verga, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Policy Support), Dr. Marv Langston, Deputy Chief Information Officer and Rear Admiral Robert F. Willard, JCS, Deputy Director, Current Readiness & Capabilities)
Secretary Cohen: Good morning.
A year ago I was deeply concerned that the Department of Defense was not working the Year 2000 computer problem aggressively enough. I told the military and civilian leadership that Y2K was a readiness issue and directed senior leadership to attack the problem accordingly.
Every month Deputy Secretary Hamre now personally reviews the status of our Y2K efforts. The Joint Staff is overseeing rigorous operational evaluations of our warfighting systems. Across the Department we are spending roughly $3.7 billion on this effort.
Yesterday I reviewed our Y2K progress throughout the Department and I'm pleased to report that almost all of our systems are fixed and fielded. The remaining systems will be fixed and tested soon. So as a result I'm very confident that the Department will be able to carry out its missions as we cross over into the new millennium.
In many ways the Y2K challenge facing DoD is the same challenge that faces all agencies and industries. First we had to get our arms around the problem and understand its true scope and challenge, and that is a challenge in and of itself in terms of the vast complexities involved.
Next we had to get our hands on the problem. We had to find the experts and those who could organize our efforts and approach it in a very rational fashion. That, too, was an extraordinary challenge.
Finally, we had to solve the problem before the hands of the clock run out. This is, literally, a race against time.
What sets the Department of Defense apart from industry and all of the agencies is our size and significance.
In terms of size, the Department of Defense is the largest organization in the nation. We have over three million people -- active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian employees -- and they are spread all over the world. To administer to this community it takes roughly 10,000 separate computer systems involving 1.5 million individual computers which are spread at hundreds of locations across the globe. Of these, over 2,000 systems are so-called mission critical -- communication, navigational, targeting systems -- that absolutely must work for the military to meet its missions on January 1st, the year 2000. In fact over one-third of the government's critical systems are in the Department of Defense.
I know that many of you have reported on the increasing number of cyber attacks against the Department's infrastructure. We are treating the Year 2000 as if it were a cyber attack directed at the very core of our military capabilities -- at our ability to obtain, process and control information that allows American forces to dominate the battlefield.
In this sense, Y2K is an enemy attack of the rarest kind. We know the time of his planned attack. We know the place. We know the consequences. And we know that we have absolutely no excuse not to prepare.
The military is conducting extensive Y2K exercises advancing the clock to 2000 and testing whether the systems will continue to function properly.
We believe it's not enough for technical teams to simply validate the systems. Rather we are having our commanders test their systems in operational settings.
To give you an example, this spring the aircraft carrier USS CONSTELLATION and its 13 ship battle group conducted a two-week exercise. Entire crews went to their battle stations, jets were launched and then recovered. Our commanders even simulate systems failures to measure the reaction of our forces and their ability to work around problems.
Last week the Department conducted a huge end-to-end test of our logistics supply chain. How we get orders from the foxhole to the factory, then deliver the parts back to the foxhole is a crucial element in our operations that absolutely must work. It involves 2.5 billion transactions a year, approximately 68,000 per day, 2,800 per hour, and about one transaction every single second -- all involving some $80 billion per year.
Our test was not a so-called "inside the Beltway" paper exercise. It included over 1,000 participants from the Defense Logistics Agencies and all four services. It linked 22 sites across the United States such as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Huntsville, Alabama; St. Louis, Missouri; Columbus, Ohio; and Albany, Georgia.
Another example, the USS ATLANTA ordered a part through its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. The order went to Dayton, Ohio for processing and the part that was shipped to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania back through Norfolk to Atlanta so it went across the entire system in which we experienced only one failure. One failure in 200 million lines of computer code, and that failure has already been fixed.
The exercise will be expanded to include linkages to our key prime vendors for those mission critical systems.
As of today almost all systems across the Department and the military have been fixed and fielded and tested to ensure proper performance. This includes 94 percent of all systems and Admiral Mies in a moment can point these out in charts, as well as 92 percent of all mission-critical systems. All mission-critical systems will be ready before the new year.
There is no question that on January 1, 2000 and every day thereafter the Department of Defense is going to be ready. The military will be ready to meet its missions. Nonetheless, full preparation demands contingency planning. Every single Department of Defense entity has therefore prepared to put into place a contingency plan. This includes our efforts to create a special center at our nuclear command in Colorado. Russian and U.S. forces will work together to ensure that any glitches are not misinterpreted as an attack, and to reduce the risk of an accidental nuclear launch.
Here at home clear parameters are being laid out for military support to any potential domestic problems or disruptions. As with all domestic agencies and emergencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, will prioritize response efforts and any military role will be to support those civilian efforts.
I should note in closing that securing our systems for the Year 2000 has also afforded numerous lessons that are going to translate well in our efforts to secure critical information infrastructure in the year well beyond the Year 2000.
Our assessment efforts have led to the best-ever accounting of DoD systems and their status. The information management structure now in place meets the requirements of the Clinger-Cohen Act, I'm pleased to announce. There is more senior level awareness and appreciation for information technology than ever before, to include an acute awareness that the government needs to keep pace with industry. Indeed, we may some day look back on the Y2K as a blessing -- a blessing that forced America to face realities of a rapidly changing information-based world.
I've asked Admiral Richard Mies, the Commander in Chief of Strategic Command, to join us today, and I especially want to thank him for really delaying his departure to a CINC's conference so he could be here to address you today and to answer any questions. I especially wanted him to be here today because of our nuclear systems, and he's the man responsible for them, and they are central to our nation's security. So it's a very important role that he plays and I wanted him to be here to respond to any of the insightful questions that I'm sure you're going to [ask].
These systems must be Y2K ready. Admiral Mies has done a great job of making sure that they are, and he represents all of the CINCs who have been conducting these extensive operational evaluations of our warfighting systems. He is where, as we say, the rubber meets the road of the nation's defense, and I am reassured and confident that we will defeat the Y2K attack when it comes on January 1, 2000.
Because of the time compression that we are under, Dr. Hamre has to be up on the Hill very soon. Admiral Mies is prepared to answer any questions you have on this subject matter. I would like to confine it to Y2K.
Q: Can we ask you first a question on another topic before we get started?
Secretary Cohen: You may ask one question.
Q: Can you comment on this report today about the House Appropriations Committee report which says that the Pentagon misled or misused funds, and essentially broke faith with Congress on defense spending?
Secretary Cohen: The report, much as the action by the subcommittee comes as something of a surprise to all of us in the Pentagon, we have more than 5,000 programs that we are required to report on. Out of the 5,000 the subcommittee has cited I believe six. That's quite, I think, a significant statement in and of itself, that about 99.9 percent of the time we seem to be doing things right.
If there are any deficiencies or allegations of failure to comply with the law, we will work with the committee to satisfy them as to the proper result.
I might point out that one committee may cite the Pentagon for failing to follow the direction of the House language, when in fact we may have something inconsistent in a Senate language report which is left ambiguous in a full House/Senate conference report. So some of this may be attributed to ambiguity in terms of what the direction is between the two houses and the ultimate resolution of the different interpretations of what the requirements are for the Pentagon.
But I would point out that out of the six items that were cited, if you put that in the context of the 5,000 programs that we have to administer, we're bound to have some deficiencies, but I think the record is overwhelming that we work very closely with the Congress. When they have a problem, usually they call us and we sit down and try to work it out. We will continue to do that in the future.
Admiral Mies: Good morning. It's a great pleasure to be here. As the Secretary indicated, I'm Admiral Rich Mies and I currently serve as the Commander of the United States Strategic Command. That's the unified command that's responsible for all our nation's strategic nuclear forces.
I'd like to take a few minutes to briefly discuss the status of our nuclear systems relative to the Y2K problem.
Our nation's nuclear command and control system is really a complex system of systems that includes everything from the initial planning that we do at U.S. Strategic Command to the actual weapon systems that are deployed in the field and at sea. The system also includes functions like intelligence, threat warning and force direction. As you can imagine, this complex system reaches across many different agencies and military commands including the White House, the Joint Staff, other unified commands, and our military services.
The United States Strategic Command has been working on the Y2K problem since 1994. In 1996 we've actually had a full-time team assigned to the Y2K effort.
During the past year, as the Secretary indicated, we have conducted extensive testing to verify that the command and control of our strategic nuclear forces would not be affected by the Y2K problem.
First we conducted extensive validation and verification of each individual system to verify it was Y2K compliant. Then second, after the individual systems were verified we conducted a series of comprehensive, integrated operational evaluations -- five in all -- end to end tests of the systems required to support a given function such as mission planning or force direction. So we could really evaluate the systems in their normal operating environment from end to end.
Then we advanced through all the critical dates associated with the Year 2000 problem -- not just 1 January, but other critical dates associated with the computer code problem -- to verify these systems will continue to operate as designed. The evaluations included simulated executions of each of our nuclear weapon systems. I'm pleased to report that we had no Y2K failures during any of these operational evaluations. This comprehensive set of system verifications and then operational evaluations has given us a high confidence that our nuclear command and control systems are ready for the Year 2000 transition.
With a few loose ends that we intend to complete by October, primarily because of some of our forces that were committed to Kosovo, we really feel like we have the Y2K problem under control.
When coverage of the Y2K problem became widespread in the media, a couple of concerns associated with our strategic forces surfaced. First, several observers voiced concern that our nuclear weapons might activate or somehow improperly operate on January 1, 2000. I want to make it clear that there is no risk of accidental launch. Procedures for launching our nation's nuclear weapons involve multiple levels of safeguards such as code verifications and human interactions to verify and authenticate an order from the President. Computers by themselves cannot launch nuclear weapons.
The fears of improper system operation or unauthorized weapon system activation from Y2K are really unfounded.
Second, there were a number of people who were concerned that our nuclear command and control systems might actually fail and shut down. Fail to operate, and thus jeopardize our deterrence capability. I think, again, our system verifications and our operational evaluations have also proven this concern to be unfounded.
While we're confident that our strategic systems will operate correctly, we're not being complacent. Prudence dictates that we prepare for unforeseen failures, so as a result now we're busy preparing detailed contingency plans to deal with even the most unlikely situations. These plans lay out extra measures that we're going to take prior to the transition on January 1st to ensure that the right people and the right resources are positioned to monitor the transition and deal with any unforeseen failures.
In closing, I'm confident that our nation's strategic nuclear forces will be as safe, secure and reliable after January 1st as they are today.
Q: My understanding was the discussions with the Russians about the early warning and the (inaudible) kind of went on the (inaudible) back during Kosovo and then afterwards you were trying to spin that back up. Where do you stand right now? And do you have enough time to put everything in place?
Admiral Mies: What you say is true. I am really not directly responsible for the shared early warning initiative although I certainly have an active role and have representatives in the initiative, but I really would like to defer to the Secretary's staff, Mr. Peter Verga, who can answer that question more directly.
Mr. Verga: Thanks Admiral.
That's a true statement, and we have been working with the Russians over time. It's actually two different initiatives. There's a long term initiative on shared early warning and there's a shorter term initiative called a Y2K Center for Strategic Stability that we're putting in place out in Colorado Springs. The purpose of that is to address people's legitimate concerns on security and safety of nuclear forces over the date change period.
The Russians have deferred any action on their side beginning in about March as a result of the Kosovo situation. We've been continuing the work on the U.S. side. Our work is ready to go and will be ready to go in December. We have an offer on the table with the Russians right now and are expecting their reply sometime hopefully within the next couple of weeks, and we'd like to get restarted in about August in order to be able to get that in place mid-December, up and operational. But we're putting all the communications on our side that are needed to be able to do this.
Q: That is for the Y2K Center, not the...
Mr. Verga: That's correct. The shared early warning long term initiative which will actually result in centers on both sides is a longer term operating thing that's going on.
Q: If the Russians don't respond and you're faced with a situation where it is just the U.S. doing this, what are the risks with the Russians not participating?
Mr. Verga: In my view the risks are no more than they are today. We've been assured by the Russians that their systems, just like our systems, are not totally dependent on computers, and therefore subject to failures of Y2K. It's more of a matter of confidence. We have in place the hotlines which have been in place since the '60s that allow the exchange of information directly with the Russian command authorities. We're taking actions on our side to also provide backup communications to those in case they're subject to any particular computer things. They're very redundant systems, two or three pathways in which to get between the U.S. and Russia. So I think we're confident we'll be able to exchange confidence information.
Q: This offer on the table you mentioned is for them to actually be physically present at this center in Colorado, is that right?
Mr. Verga: That's correct.
Secretary Cohen: We want to show you these charts here that we've labored to produce.
They kind of speak for themselves. I think these two charts are self-explanatory in terms of where we started on June 30, '98 in terms of what was completed. As you can see we're up, will be up by September of this year at the 99 percent level, and then by December at the full 100 percent level as far as fixed and fielded.
Q: Mr. Secretary, that says 2107, this press release says 2701.
Secretary Cohen: I'm sorry?
Q: The mission critical system --
Mr. Bacon: It's a typo. This is correct.
Secretary Cohen: In fact yesterday I was presented with a ball cap that had a little digital clock that showed there were roughly, as I recall, 163 days left, and then a countdown by the hours and the seconds, and I noticed that it seemed to be one hour off. I inquired about that, of course, and these brilliant people who are serving our government so well were quick to point out that they had calculated that daylight savings time was not in effect at that time, and therefore, that ten hour figure was correct. So they had anticipated the non-application of daylight savings time, so a lot of thought has been going into this.
But this, as I mentioned during my brief opening remarks, was the exercise, the end to end test, and all the participants that were involved in that, and again, only one failure over 200 million lines of code -- one failure has been fixed.
This is to give you an example of the degree and depth of examination into this problem. I think that Admiral Mies will be the first to come here to the podium to say that all of us I think were not surprised but at least somewhat surprised in terms of the depth of complexity that once you start to pull the strings out looking at this fabric, has been sewn together to create this incredible information system that we have that dominates our country and those of others. Once you start pulling on the threads of this tapestry it gets more and more complicated, how to deal with it.
But this has been a remarkable effort by some very talented people who have spent the last year really working on virtually all, spending all of their time dealing with this issue. As a result we've gone from that first chart where you saw such a large gap between where we were and where we had to be, has now been virtually completed.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you comment on your degree of confidence in the Russian assurances that their systems are not subject to failure? That they will be in order by the end of the year?
Secretary Cohen: The Russians, I assume, will do whatever is necessary to protect their self interest. It is not in Russia's interest to have the kind of failure that would create a catastrophe, so to the extent that they are concerned about their own welfare then sure they are taking the measures necessary to fix the problem.
To the extent there can be more "confidence building" measures, namely the exchange of personnel to come to Colorado Springs and to have people on site to satisfy themselves that everything is operating as it should and with the communication lines being fully open and redundant, then that only adds to the confidence that we have.
I had planned to meet with my own counterpart, Marshal Sergeyev early next month in August. That has been delayed somewhat, but I'm trying to reschedule that to get an appropriate time. We will talk about this issue as well as national missile defense, ABM Treaty and other types of issues.
Q: How about the Chinese?
Secretary Cohen: Pardon?
Q: What about the Chinese and their nuclear systems? Are they giving any assurances?
Secretary Cohen: The Chinese have indicated that perhaps they have less of a problem because of their system not being so dependent upon these computerized programs. But again, we're satisfied the Chinese recognize they have a problem and would not want to either perpetrate or invite catastrophe, so we assume they're also proceeding with as much alacrity as possible to deal with them.
Q: They're not invited to the center?
Secretary Cohen: They're not part of the center, no.
Q: Can you say how much of the $3.7 billion has been spent already, how much remains to be spent?
Secretary Cohen: Dr. Hamre may have that information.
Dr. Langston: All of it has been spent with the exception of what is being spent... We will spend $3.7 billion up through March of next year, so we are 90 percent of the way through that. The last increment of congressional budget supplemental for this $165 million is in process.
Deputy Secretary Hamre: Which are the mission-critical systems that haven't been fixed yet?
Admiral Mies: In the nuclear world we have actually two systems that are not fully Y2K compliant, and we anticipate both those systems will be fixed by October. This is in the nuclear world.
One of those systems is a brand new system that is still undergoing testing before it's implemented, so in a sense, if we don't have assurance it's Y2K compliant we will just not implement it and we'll rely on the legacy system which we already know works and is Y2K compliant. So it's a question of timing as to when we want to bring this new bomber planning system on-line.
The second system is an enhanced command center console at Strategic Command Headquarters. Again, we have an established work-around, but a replacement is due to be installed in the September/October timeframe.
Those are the only two systems that we have in the nuclear-critical systems that are not Y2K compliant. We have 12 other systems and I won't get into expansive detail, that have all been fixed and verified Y2K compliant and operationally tested but we haven't had a chance because of some of the operations in Kosovo to get the systems fully fielded to all the units that carry that system. So the issue then is just getting it fielded with the additional units. That, again, will be complete in the September/October timeframe.
Q: These are 12 non-nuclear or...
Admiral Mies: These are 12 nuclear systems, but they are Y2K compliant. They've been verified and operationally tested on individual units, but we haven't been able to field them completely to the entire force that carries them. In other words, if it were a bomber system, we have tested and done an end to end test to verify it works, but we haven't got it to all the bomber units yet. We need to field it to get it installed in all of those units and that will be done no later than October. But again, we feel we have work-arounds for all of those problems that we're aware of. We feel very comfortable we're in good shape.
Q: In the logistics end to end test that you've got charted there, is it true that only 44 of close to 1,000 systems were actually involved in that test? And is it also true that it's impossible to do a realistic end to end test that will truly prepare for all contingencies?
Dr. Langston: I'm Marv Langston, the Deputy CIO and working for Y2K.
I do not know the details specific to the logistics test. The logistics test was the largest test ever conducted in the Department of Defense and it did string together all the end to end systems supporting logistics, but I do not know the specifics of that question.
Q: Could you describe a little bit of how the fixes were actually carried out? For example, how many systems did you find would have failed if they had not been fixed? And how deep the problem actually was in terms of embedded Y2K problems. And how many systems did you replace and how many systems did you simply do recoding of?
Dr. Langston: The best way to think about that answer, sir, is as we have shown on the other chart, 2107 mission-critical systems and over 4600 non-mission-critical systems are the systems we have been fixing. So had we not attempted to fix all those systems we would have had problems in all of those systems.
Q: In all of them?
Dr. Langston: Yes, sir. Those are the systems that we are repairing. We are putting remediation fixes in all of those systems.
What we're reporting on are these end to end operational evaluation or functional evaluation tests which really gives us the assurance that after we fix the system as a system, they operate together as a fully strung together mission thread, if you will, a system of systems. The fact that we find one or two failures in those strung together systems means that we're testing a path or running data through a path that was not caught when they were operating as an individual system.
Mr. Bacon: Secretary Cohen has time for one more question, then Admiral Mies and Dr. Langston can stay longer.
Q: Are there any contingency plans being drawn up that would involve the military being used in operations domestically in case of civil unrest or discontinuation of services?
Secretary Cohen: As I mentioned in my statement, there are contingency plans dealing with a domestic situation. If a city or town or community suddenly finds itself without basic services, the lead agency would be FEMA. We would act under the jurisdiction of FEMA to respond to any needs that that community might have. So we're kind of a backup contingency planning operation to provide whatever service the civilian authorities would request or require. But that is what we're planning for right now.
Q: Is that under the guidelines of PDD-63?
Secretary Cohen: It would be under the existing guidelines, yes.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Bacon: If you have more questions for Admiral Mies...
Q: I have a small detail. How many of the mission-critical systems are related to nuclear systems? All of them or some of them?
Admiral Mies: Do we have the chart on the nuclear systems here? I don't know if we brought that one. I think we have a chart on nuclear systems and I'll give you some detail here.
The nuclear systems are really a subset of the broader systems. There are a total of 486 systems. Of those, 198 are classified from a strategic nuclear standpoint as mission critical. As I indicated, of the 198 that are mission critical, we have two that are presently non-compliant, but we have fixes in place to correct those by October; and we have 12 that are Y2K compliant but just have not been fully fielded to all the units. Again, those will be corrected before the transition.
When you look at the 486 systems now you include non-mission-critical systems in there, and again, we have the two systems that we're going to replace. We have nine systems that remain to be tested. All of those nine are non-mission-critical. They don't affect the safety, security, the reliability of our strategic forces. They remain to be tested, and most of those tests have to do with delays encountered because of Kosovo and operations in Kosovo. Then again in the nuclear world we have 12 mission critical that need to be fielded and we have a total of 15 more, a total of 27 total nuclear systems that need to be fully fielded, but they have been verified Y2K compliant. All of that will be complete by the October timeframe.
So we're very confident that by the end of the year we will be 100 percent for both mission critical and non mission critical. We're even more confident in mission critical, that we'll be done by October with those.
I would like to clarify one thing that Dr. Langston said so there's no confusion about this. The fact that we had 486 systems and we had 198 mission-critical systems does not mean that every one of those systems had a problem. Many of those systems have no date dependency whatsoever, but nevertheless we went through and tested those systems to verify that they were fully Y2K compliant as we would date dependent systems to ensure that there weren't any hidden codes that we were not aware of. So we've run tests through all our systems, and frankly, the number of problems we've found has been very small and not very significant from an operational standpoint.
Q: You can work your own systems, but as you look at both your own situation and also the situation in Russia, to what extent is there concern that even if the nuclear systems are functioning, the supplier base -- power, whatever -- isn't going to be and that could create a problem?
Admiral Mies: We have worked very hard on that, and frankly, all of our systems, and I can't speak as expertly about the Russian systems, but certainly all our systems have backup power supplies that are independent of any commercial supply that we rely on so we feel comfortable that even in the event that we have an unforeseen problem from a commercial supply, that we have alternate backup capabilities to ensure that our systems will continue to operate.
Again, I think we've received the same kind of assurances from the Russians, although not in great detail. But their systems are very much like ours. The danger, if anything, is not of accidental launch. The danger is that systems will lose power and literally shut down.
Q: You mentioned that the war on Kosovo caused delays. Can you explain how it affected your work?
Admiral Mies: We have a couple of our strategic systems that involve reconnaissance aircraft, and specifically there are a couple of systems involving our U-2 aircraft and our RC-135 aircraft that we haven't been able to complete the full operational evaluation on because those units were tied up over in Kosovo. So it affected some elements of our strategic forces, but not the three principal legs you normally think of. But our reconnaissance forces, some of our command and control forces were involved in Kosovo and as a result of that we have to wait until we get those units back and we can do the full test.
Q: Which ones exactly were those?
Admiral Mies: The U-2s and the RC-135s are two good examples of reconnaissance aircraft that we haven't been able to complete all the operational testing. We've done a fair amount of the testing. We just haven't done it all.
Q: More broadly on the Russian nuclear security question, there continue to be reports of concerns about the status of the Russian nuclear forces, whether their forces are not paid or whatever. What is your assessment at this point of the state of their nuclear forces in terms of...
Admiral Mies: My impression which is somewhat anecdotal because I was only in Russia a year ago and I have not had the opportunity to go over since then, but with our limited level of contact and our discussions with the Russians, it's very clear to me that Russian strategic forces receive top priority in their military. And while they clearly have economic problems, we have received assurances that the systems are safe, secure, and reliable. I saw nothing when I was over there, again a year ago, to indicate anything contrary to that.
Q: Do you have concerns about any other nuclear powers other than Russia or China in terms of Y2K compliant?
Admiral Mies: No. I think... Well, I guess I would qualify that to say certainly I have concerns, but to some degree we've tried to reassure ourselves and we've tried to gain assurances from those countries that they are addressing the Y2K problem. So to a certain degree our confidence is limited by the amount of assurances we've gotten.
We have no great insights into their systems, and we have not worked very closely... We know they are addressing the problem and we certainly feel we've aggressively attacked our Y2K problems to ensure that our systems are safe and reliable.
Q:...Britain and France, are you talking about India and Pakistan or all four?
Admiral Mies: I assume you're talking about all nuclear powers so I wasn't limiting it to allies, I was considering everybody.
Clearly we work very closely with the British forces because, as you are probably aware, we share the Trident missile system so we feel very confident about the British forces especially because of the commonality in many of our systems.
Q: Not necessarily with nuclear systems, but either of you, how confident are you in the preparations of our allies, especially in Western Europe and NATO?
Dr. Langston: For non-nuclear systems?
Q: Yes. Since we've just covered nuclear. Non-nuclear systems and NATO command and control systems, that sort of thing.
Dr. Langston: We have been working for the past two years with our allies to ensure that they are considering the problems, working the problems. We work with them very closely. I cannot report to you the percentages of completion for all of our allied nations, but we are working with all of our allied nations to help them make sure that they prepare for this and they are working the issue.
Q: If I could revisit the Y2K Center with the Russians one more time. If the Russians do accept the offer in a reasonable timeframe, not November, obviously, but before then, is it just a function of them signing up and coming over? Or do they also need to still put com infrastructure in place that isn't there yet, to ensure that the center really will do what you want it to do?
Mr. Verga: It's a little bit of both. The communications infrastructure is being put in place on our side right now. Essentially that work is just about done. As soon as the Russians agree, we will then put in the communications infrastructure with them on the Russian side and we will have the exchange of individuals that will man the center, that will start... As I said, we're planning on bringing it up and operational about mid-December, have it all ready to go the first, start operating about mid-December to go through the date change period, practicing how we're going to communicate and things like that. And again, keeping in mind that we still have also the normal so-called hotline communications between the United States and Russia that would be available to discuss any problems.
Q: How many people would be at the center? Exactly what data would they see? Is it ESP data? Is it radar data? Is it global, is it just U.S. and Russia?
Mr. Verga: I don't know that we've determined the exact number of people. Possibly Admiral Willard might have a better feel for the numbers of folks that we're talking about. What we're going to do is exchange not data per se, but information that would be derived from the data that would be exchanged between Russia and the United States. Is that correct, Bob?
Admiral Willard: I'm Bob Willard. I'm the Chairman's Y2K task force lead. And another part of my responsibility, I've been working the shared early warning process as well as the Center for Y2K Strategic Stability.
The idea is for a couple of consoles for Americans and a couple of consoles for Russians to be manned in this bilateral joint center in Colorado Springs. The data that's derived, frankly, from all of our early warning centers would be processed and then supplied into that center.
Q: So they don't get raw data, they get pre-processed data.
Admiral Willard: They get real time data, but it is in fact filtered.
Q: Any other countries that have been invited to this...
Admiral Willard: Not at this time, no.
Q: Is there any interest on any other countries to be involved in this?
Admiral Willard: It has been discussed in this building, but beyond that there have been no dialogue that I'm aware of nor have there been invitations extended. Realize that it's centered around the early warning processes of our two countries, and these two nations are the two nations that have strategic early warning systems in the world. So it's really an attempt to provide a level of assurance to both the Russians and the United States that we are sharing like information across these Y2K vulnerability periods.
Q: This is trying to address the fear that early warning systems in Russia will not work?
Admiral Willard: It is unilateral information being supplied, so yes, it's United States sensors that we're very confident in that will be supplying the data that will be shared between us and the Russians.
Q: I was a bit late, so if this is in your statement you can just refer me to that. But I was wondering if you could comment on this international assessment center, I don't know if that's the right title, over in Crystal City that General Kind is going to be heading up. What kind of information that's going to be monitoring and when that's going to be set up and the details about that.
Admiral Willard: We have not spoken about it. There is activity going on through General Kind's work for Mr. John Koskinen as a part of a federal-level information gathering for the period, the actual period of operation of the Year 2000 events.
We, like all federal agencies, will support that center and will provide information to that center and we are working with his folks to help make sure that we have the communications paths in place and that we can support it for everything that they need in that center.
Q: But it's not a DoD operation as such.
Admiral Willard: No, sir. It's not a DoD operation. We will do our internal command and control and executive support center operations to support anything that we need to make internally to DoD for decisions, and we will support the federal center to provide information to them about ongoing activities.
Q: Admiral Willard, a follow-up on the console. If it's real time but diffused data, I assume that from the console I'll be able to judge performance of the overall sensing network but not the performance of any one sensor system. Is that correct?
Admiral Willard: I don't think it would be appropriate to go into the exact nature of the shared data other than to say that it is a compilation of our early warning data. It is not being supplied to the operators' time late, but rather will be supplied in the normal period of time that the actual operators within Cheyenne Mountain and elsewhere would be receiving it.
Press: Thank you very much.