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Y2K Update

Presenters: Robert F. Willard, Rear Admiral, USN
January 01, 2000 9:30 PM EDT
Friday, December 31, 1999 - 9:30 EST

MR. CROWLEY: I'll give a moment for our group of experts to situate themselves.

Good evening. I'm P.J. Crowley, the Pentagon deputy spokesman. And I think we're all very gratified that throughout this day, for the most part, we've been able to see a world focused on celebrations and not focused on crises. That certainly is good news.

In the fine tradition of Nicholas Burns, the former State Department spokesman, and as an avid Bostonian, I certainly want to express my hope that the curse of the Bambino is not Y2K-compliant and that at midnight the Yankees will have had their century of winning streaks and the Red Sox will emerge as, once again, a baseball power in the next century. (Laughter.)

QYou've got one more year.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, you wanted news. I'm here to tell you that the curse of the Bambino expires in two and a half hours. I think that's dramatic news back in Boston.

QThe clocks at Fenway have always run backwards and always will.

MR. CROWLEY: One hundred years from now, I will not be here to be proven wrong. Anyway, we have Admiral Bob Willard returning, having gone through Greenwich Mean Time, and that has great implications for the military in terms of what we call Zulu time. But we thought we'd brief one more time tonight just to report to you once again that all of our systems are green. So we have Admiral Bob Willard here and our group of experts if there are any follow-up questions.

ADM. WILLARD: Good evening. Once again, we've been monitoring the state of the world very closely, and particularly our systems, as we rolled past Greenwich Mean Time at about 1900 this evening, 7:00 p.m. And I'm happy to report and continue to be encouraged to report that all the Department of Defense systems remain in green status. We have successfully rolled over long-haul communication systems, and our systems all succeeded in rolling over correctly. So, once again, we remain optimistic and very encouraged by what we've seen. And I know you've been hearing that throughout the day.

This is where we are currently. Recall that this chart is broken up by unified commander area of responsibility -- Pacific Command, Central Command, European Command, Southern Command. And we have most recently rolled through the European Command and we are currently out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and approaching the East Coast of the United States in terms of the century rollover.

So we've had a couple of hours to assess the European Command systems, and it's been an area of great interest to us, not only because of the forces that we have there and the systems that we have there, but because of the large number of Department of Defense dependents that are also there. So we remain in good shape.

And I'd be pleased to answer any questions that you might have this evening. Yes, sir.

QHave you had any glitches, not in your most critical systems but in some of the sub-systems as you have watched them roll?

ADM. WILLARD: Yes, but not Y2K-related. In fact, just recently we were working a system in the Middle East that experienced a communications glitch and have resolved that it was not Year 2000-related, and it's subsequently been corrected already. And again, I think you would find that, were you to ask that pointed question around the world today, that much like we experience when we come to work, the answer would be, yes, of course. And we work, you know, around our problems temporarily and then attempt to recover our systems. And if we successfully recover them and there's nothing attributable to Year 2000, it won't make the report.

QSo even in the minor systems that you've been able to look at today, you have not seen Y2K glitches in any of them as you have -- (inaudible)?

ADM. WILLARD: That's correct. Our systems thus far are free of Year 2000 glitches, anything that we can attribute to Year 2000. Yes, ma'am?

QWhat about any host nation type problems that are impacting U.S. military installations overseas? Any power failures that are affecting the military? Anything like that?

ADM. WILLARD: None thus far that are affecting our military forces. We do not have knowledge of military forces and installations that have had to put continuity of operations plans into effect. There were some precautionary measures taken to make some of our installation commands more self-sufficient in anticipation of the rollover in their region. And when the rollover successfully occurred and they could verify that the services could be provided, then they relaxed from that particular posture. So the answer is, there have been adjustments made along the way, but the host nations are successfully working any problems that they may have in a manner that has caused our major infrastructures to remain on-line.

Yes, sir.

QCould you explain crypto systems briefly in terms that the taxi driver or the Kansas City milkman can understand?

ADM. WILLARD: Well, we have -- cryptologic systems are systems that afford us the degree of security in our communication systems and other systems that we require. Cryptological coding is, on a matter of timing and routine, installed in our systems, changed out periodically. And we undergo those period changes more or less frequently, depending on the type of system it is. And we do this in hundreds, and I would argue thousands of variety of military systems.

They have to be able -- those cryptologic systems have to be able to accept the date functions just like any other system does, to ensure that the necessary encoding is affected. And we watched closely, particularly the Greenwich Mean Time rollover to ensure that our cryptologic systems would continue to function. Does that help?

QFine. Does that affect satellites, the communications?

ADM. WILLARD: It doesn't affect the satellites, but the cryptologic coding is installed in our satellite-related communication systems, yes.

QNavigations also?

ADM. WILLARD: Some. Yes, ma'am.

QHave you had any problems on any of the Web sites at all? Any computer hacking attempts been successful? Anything like that?

ADM. WILLARD: The reports that we've received say no more than normal. This particular weekend has been arguably nominal in those areas. So we continue to be very vigilant in terms of observing for hacking and viruses and so forth. We've obviously taken the necessary precautions to be prepared for it. But the answer is, to date, we've not seen more than the normal amount of hacking, to answer your question.

Q (Inaudible.) What's your base line?

ADM. WILLARD: I don't know that I could characterize it, quantify it for you, other than to say there is one. I mean, there is a normal amount of activity related to hacker activity and virus activity. That is experienced on the Internet, I am sure, and on our nets as well. And that is what is monitored. And what we are reporting against currently is anything that is in excess or excessive as it relates to that base line. So, again, I can't really quantify it for you, but we monitor against the frequency that we're accustomed to.

QEarlier today, you said that in Russia you saw no power failures. You saw no anomalies in the earlier phase of the time zones passing across. Is that still the case?

ADM. WILLARD: That's still the case.

QNo power failures? No other large anomalies that are observable from --

ADM. WILLARD: No large anomalies that are observable by our sources or being reported by Russia.

QAnd how about China? And how about North Korea? Same questions from this afternoon.

ADM. WILLARD: The same answer, that the major infrastructures within those countries that are being reported against have not, to our knowledge, failed. Nor are those countries reporting failure.

QDo you know of any countries that are reporting large failures of systems?

ADM. WILLARD: No. Currently the world, as we've seen in observing the international briefings that have taken place, by and large is reporting itself green currently. I would offer that there are a couple of things that could be -- that are attributable. One is that the second teams throughout the world are not on watch tonight, for the most part. I think you would find that in major industry and throughout the international community that the folks that are watching over our systems, by and large, are expert in those particular areas. So, as in the United States, I'm sure the rest of the world has the right people monitoring their systems.

We also have no contract to establish that if a system undergoes a failure, Y2K or not, and contingency plans are put in place, that they're necessarily reporting that as a degrade other than "The infrastructure has remained intact and we're working the problem and we remain green." And I think that's been the case today. So very encouraging from the standpoint that the remediation efforts have been successful. To the extent that we know them throughout the world, we're very confident -- we remain very confident in our systems. And the watch standards are affecting those systems, you know, we think correctly around the world as well.

QSo are you saying, if I interpret you correctly, that there may be glitches, but because the first team is on, not only in our government and the U.S. military but in other governments, that they may be doing fixes at the moment on the spot?

ADM. WILLARD: I think you could assert that around the world that there are industries and infrastructures that are undergoing, you know, mitigation and contingency plan work-arounds to some extent, and yet we've seen no major failures. And that's the most encouraging part.

QThank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Just before you go, I think, you know, based on our current level of confidence, this will be the last scheduled briefing of the night. And we will, of course, be here all night to answer your questions on any developments that might come up, if we do see impacts where our forces are affected through the night. But we will not brief again tonight. We'll brief at noon tomorrow with Dr. Hamre doing kind of an assessment at more or less the first day of the new millennium.

Very good.

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