DoD News Briefing - Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre
Tuesday, January 4, 2000, 1:45 p.m. EST
MR. BACON: Dr. Hamre, the deputy secretary of Defense, is here with his Y2K team to bring you up to date on where we stand. He'll make a brief opening statement and then take your questions and rely on his experts for support when necessary.
DR. HAMRE: I didn't get that part about needing Nomex before this.
Good afternoon. Thank you very much, and I'm glad to have a chance to be with you to report. We will, this afternoon, stand down the operations center that we stood up for year 2000. We didn't have enough significant work to have to do, but we kept it going and it will be this afternoon, I believe, that it stands down. I would like to take this opportunity to especially thank the very senior folks that made such a huge difference in this. Admiral Bob Willard, who you became familiar with during the weekend; Bill Curtis, who was our point man for the entire Y2K effort, working for Art Money and for Marv Langston. Sitting next to him, Pete Verga, who was working the issues with Russia during this period.
It was a remarkably successful weekend. As I mentioned to you earlier, we had 2,101 mission-critical systems that we had to repair. Everything worked fine. We did have the one significant event, which I described to you on the 1st. Of our non-mission-critical systems, we had about 4,000, 5,000 of them that we were modifying. Things worked remarkably well. We had just a small handful of problems. Nothing had any operational implication at all, with the exception of the reconnaissance satellite that I mentioned to you on the 1st.
I need to point out to you, this was probably the most comprehensive effort that the department has ever undertaken when it comes to the area of its command and control. Literally tens of thousands of people were involved in this remediation. Every commander in every organization had personal responsibilities and took those responsibilities, did an excellent job. And we're very glad that it showed that. We had no problems with any of our forces deployed anywhere. Every one of our commanders in chief reported that they were under positive and affirmative control of their theater throughout the entire rollover period.
And so this afternoon we will be standing down the watch center. And again, my admiration and thanks to the men and women in uniform and to the civilians that made such a huge difference in tackling this problem.
Why don't I end with that, and then start with any questions you may have.
Q: Could you describe in more detail the system when that went down? What was -- precisely what was affected, and how did it affect any operations?
DR. HAMRE: Again, I won't be able to go into much detail because this is an important intelligence system. Normally we don't report on the operational availability of any of our intelligence assets. It was an exception that we made on the 1st to tell you that we had an anomaly because it was related to year 2000. Normally we wouldn't have talked about that, even. But we did have an anomaly. It lasted a few hours, several hours, as I think I said. It was a significant event, but fortunately, it had insignificant consequences. I have looked to see the quantitative impact of the operation and it being unavailable for the period that it was unavailable, and it was judged to have no operational significance, even though it was not a failure that we wanted to have. We have a backup mode, and we were in an operational backup mode within several hours. The operational backup mode was not as efficient as the normal day-to-day operation. It became increasingly efficient, so that by the end of the period, when we had the final fix in place, which was Sunday afternoon, we were fully operational with the backup mode. And we are in continuous normal operations today.
Q: Could you tell us in general what these insignificant consequences were? Can you describe them, even generically?
DR. HAMRE: In very generic terms, we had a minor loss of the normal sequence of things that we observe on an ongoing basis from this asset. It was not judged to be significant. It was not significant in quantitative terms and it was not judged to be significant for military terms because the backup system took care of all of our high-priority military requirements.
Q: For two hours, you had no input from satellites passing over these ground stations?
DR. HAMRE: This is for one -- only one segment of our intelligence system and only one segment of our satellite-based capabilities, and for a period of several hours we were not receiving or able to process the information. And again, it was judged to have no significance, really.
Q: You were actually receiving? You just weren't able to process; isn't that the way it works?
DR. HAMRE: Yes.
Q: It was coming down, but you couldn't read it?
DR. HAMRE: The satellite -- as I mentioned before, we were in continuous control of the satellites themselves. At no time did we not have positive control over the space assets. And they operated, but we were not able to process the information.
So once we were able to get the work-around process in place -- by the way, if I could also say; this was a huge success story, even though we -- would rather have not had it happen, because we had the right people in place. They were able to do the diagnostics in a very short period of time. They were able to put in place the backup procedure almost immediately. We had very, very little operational loss because of it, because we had prepared for this and the right people were there to be able to take advantage of it.
Q: You presumably found the Y2K issues in the code and fixed them and tested them and retested them. What in the end do you think went wrong?
DR. HAMRE: What went wrong is that this is an area, because we are operational all the time in this world; you don't have a backup capability that you can just test independently. And so you have to test it in segments. And we tested things in segments, and they proved out to work in segments. When we put it all together, it turned out that we had an anomaly.
Q: Just a follow-on -- is that because of the -- a question having to do with the positioning of satellites? Is there a particular --
DR. HAMRE: I am not going to be able to get into the technical details.
Q: Just one clarification and then a question.
The clarification: Some press accounts gave the impression that, for this brief period, however brief it was, that the United States had no, quote, "eyes in the skies," that there were no --
DR. HAMRE: That was wrong; that's not the case.
Q: That's not the case. Can you give us any idea of what -- was this a small percentage of --
DR. HAMRE: It was a significant source of information in our national intelligence capabilities. It was not an unimportant dimension; it was a significant dimension. Fortunately, because we were able to restore operations through the backup procedures so quickly, it has an insignificant impact when we looked back in retrospect.
Q: And can you just respond to the perception, or even the allegation, that the Pentagon withheld information or covered up, or tried to delay the release of this information?
DR. HAMRE: Well, let me first say, at no time did we attempt to mislead or misdirect anyone in the press. We don't normally talk about the operational availability of our intelligence assets, ever.
This is the first time we have ever made a report on one of these systems. And we only did it because in the full commitment we made to transparency for year 2000, we felt that we should do that.
At the time that Admiral Willard was giving his press conference on the night of the 31st, he was not aware, I was not aware of the problem. Indeed, the information was only coming in to the National Command Center, through their normal reporting mechanisms, at approximately the time that Admiral Willard was wrapping up his press conference. We did not know the nature of the problem. We didn't even know for sure that it was Y2K related at the time it was occurring. We learned that the back-up procedures were being implemented, and they were implemented that evening before we hit midnight. And so from a period -- I first heard about it about a quarter to 11:00, and the back-up procedures were operational by a quarter to midnight. So for a very, very brief period of time, we did not know what the cause was, and in no sense ever tried to mislead anyone.
In a private conversation with several members from the press corps, I indicated that we had a problem, but I still didn't know the nature of that problem, and we didn't follow up further in the conversations. I'll be honest and tell you I wouldn't have been able to tell you more than I could anyway. I mean, we're talking about -- why don't I just, if I could, frame the context. I mean, we were at a global alert for potential terrorist activity around the world. If I had known exactly what the problem was, I'm not sure I would have said anything to you at the time we still had that problem because I wouldn't reveal to the bad guys of the world that we had, you know, an anomaly at the time. Fortunately, it lasted a very brief period.
Q: I take it, then, that terrorism has really not been a factor as far as force protection is concerned, as far as cyberspace, crimes of invasion actions? And the forces of the United States are still on what alert?
DR. HAMRE: Well, of course, as I've said before, the alert posture of our forces varies depending on where they are around the world. We are -- and we'll be moving to the lowest day-to-day peacetime alert for the bulk of our forces, although in some areas where terrorism is a higher day-to-day endemic problem they will be at a higher posture.
You blended a number of issues in your question, and they're important. I think, for example, we experienced surprisingly little cyber activity during this period. That was a surprise to me. I had thought we would have encountered more than we did. There were some efforts by hackers in cyberspace to break into some of our systems, less than we normally experience on a weekend. Evidently, the lonely hearts out there in cyberland had something else to do and weren't just banging on us all night! We did disconnect a number of potential penetration efforts before they could do any further damage to us; we simply unplugged them. So we didn't have the problems that we had anticipated we may have in cyberspace.
Q: Was there any physical penetration efforts made by terrorists?
DR. HAMRE: I am not aware of anything -- nothing has been reported up through the system. And as you all know, we were very much ready to support local law enforcement and national law enforcement if anything had emerged. I think we should all be very grateful for the absolutely tremendous job that law enforcement did during the last 10 days. None of us should feel that we're in any sense out of the woods when it comes to international terrorism; we're not.
Q: When you say there were fewer incidents than in a normal weekend, can you help us with the numbers? On a normal weekend you have a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand?
DR. HAMRE: You know, I'll be happy to answer the question, but I honestly don't have the data. I know we had four instances where we pulled the plug on some hackers that were trying to break in. You know, this is a problem that's been growing. Almost every month it's progressively, you know, more serious than it was the month before.
Q: You pulled the plug on them or --
DR. HAMRE: On them. I mean, in other words, they were trying to work, and we simply denied their ability to even talk with our machines.
Q: What areas did they want to break into?
DR. HAMRE: I don't really know.
Q: How do you do that, when you say "pull the plug." I mean, what --
DR. HAMRE: What we have done with all of our networks -- and this has been a tremendous amount of effort during the last year and a half -- is to get monitoring stations on all of our networks; we've got about 900 of them. And so each one of them has software that's been designed to monitor the activity that's going on with that network, both inside and people wanting to come into the network. There are thresholds for reporting information inside that software. We have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week Watch Centers now that watch activity for our networks, and we have the ability to remotely disconnect people if it looks like they're trying to break in and we can't account for the activity.
Q: To fill out your earlier answer, did you know, when you had that social session with reporters in the building, that there was any anomaly? There's an allegation you didn't tell them while you were kind of raising your glass. Is that assessment correct?
DR. HAMRE: Well, I first want to make sure everybody knows we had non-alcoholic apple cider, so my raising my glass was a very sober event, George. And I will make sure you're invited next time. We had store-bought cookies.
Q: It's all right.
DR. HAMRE: Yeah, I know. It was pretty sad, actually. It was a pretty lame party, actually, when you get right down to it.
I did know that we had a problem. I did not know what the nature of the problem was at the time, and it was, as I said, after the press conference -- and at the time, I wouldn't -- it would be misleading to tell you what I knew, because I didn't know very much. I did know that we had a problem with a reconnaissance system. Did not know -- and before, as we were all breaking up to go out and watch the fireworks, I did hear that we had the backup system in place.
I don't personally believe I owe an explanation for not telling people forthrightly we had a problem with a reconnaissance system. I don't think I would have told you that at the time until I knew I had a fix. I honestly think -- forgive me for being disrespectful, but if it's trying to respect your right to file a story and my responsibility to protect the country, I'm going to protect the country.
Q: Well, I'm just trying to establish whether the stories are correct that -- at least one story said that you withheld what you knew from people at the time. Is that --
DR. HAMRE: No, because at the time, I told them that we were working what I thought may be a significant problem, but I didn't know very much about it. And that was a true statement at the time. It's still true. I didn't know very much about it at the time.
Q: Mr. Secretary, were you concerned at any point, say, after the time you knew that this problem had been fixed until noon the following day, that there was a misapprehension abroad that the Department of Defense from that podium had said repeatedly -- and in the office of the spokesman -- repeatedly had told people on the record that there were no problems?
DR. HAMRE: As I mentioned, I'm much more interested in making sure we could protect the country than I am in you getting to be able to file a story.
Q: It's not -- sir, with all due respect, it's not a matter of us being able to --
DR. HAMRE: Yeah, it is, actually.
Q: -- file a story. You were speaking to the American public from this podium.
DR. HAMRE: No. Bob Willard was speaking, and Bob told you the truth at the time.
Q: I understand that, but --
DR. HAMRE: Afterwards, when you asked me, and I said I don't know enough about it.
Q: I'm only -- my question is, were you at any point concerned that the Department of Defense had left a misimpression in the public mind?
DR. HAMRE: No. I was only concerned to have a crucial system operational for the defense of this country, and fortunately, we were able to get it operational before midnight.
Q: Once you did get the information to the point where you could talk about it, you realized the fix was in place and things were going on, and you were going to release it the next day at the briefing, did you -- at that point, did the Pentagon inform the Y2K center that was briefing overnight? Mr. Koskinen?
DR. HAMRE: I don't know the time when we notified them, but at some point in time they did -- I know the original failure was reported to the ICC directly, so they knew about it and they were relying on us to provide further supplementary information.
Q: Is the satellite still operating under these mysterious backup procedures?
DR. HAMRE: No. No. The satellite is fully operational.
Q: So by Sunday, it was on backup. At what point did it get back to normal operation?
DR. HAMRE: Late Sunday afternoon. But I must tell you, the backup procedures had gotten so good that I'm told by -- you know, well before that time we had almost full functionality. But we had full functionality Sunday night.
Q: If you had those backup procedures in place and they worked, why didn't you -- like, why couldn't you test it using those backup procedures? You said you couldn't test the satellite because there weren't backup procedures.
DR. HAMRE: Exactly the same reason we couldn't test end to end with the system in the first place. In the backup procedures, we're still relying on all the separate components that make up the composite system.
Q: Given the significance of the system and the situation, are you concerned or troubled that this building didn't seem to know what had happened till about four hours afterwards?
DR. HAMRE: No. Well -- no, I'm not, because the people that had to work the problem were working it at the time. Going back through the time lines, everything was absolutely appropriate, from what I can see. I mean, telling me -- I mean, I was several hours after the end, but that doesn't bother me a bit, because people were working the problem.
Q: I just want to get a clarification. Was it one spacecraft that you couldn't process at that ground station, or was it just --
DR. HAMRE: One of our systems was temporarily unavailable. I won't get into the configurations or the specifics of the --
Q: But you already said in your previous briefing that what was at issue was access to satellites -- plural -- the ability to process from satellites -- in plural.
DR. HAMRE: Yes.
Q: Okay. Well, anyway. You said --
DR. HAMRE: I just said I'm not going to get into the configuration issues or --
Q: The question was, I understand it was one or more, and you've already said it was --
DR. HAMRE: It was one system.
Q: Made up of more than --
DR. HAMRE: Again, I'm not going to get into the configuration issues associated with this asset.
Q: You said it was the ground station, though, right?
DR. HAMRE: But it was the ground station. It was the ground processing of it. Yeah, I mean, obviously there's more to it than just one satellite in space, but I'm not going to get into the details of it.
Q: Can I ask -- I asked you this on Saturday, but it has become a recurring theme in the media since then, and that is the question of whether in retrospect, too much money and too many resources were spent on this problem. Now that you've had another couple of days to look at it, the business systems are up, can you just offer some assessment of whether or not there was overkill involved?
DR. HAMRE: Well, had we had a chance, knowing now what it was going to be like, would we have changed anything? Absolutely not. This was an investment we had to make. We had to make sure that we could operate without any real loss of capability during this period.
I think the case of the reconnaissance system was a good case in point. We didn't want that failure. But having had that failure, the backup modes were there; the right people were on station that night at just the right places. Within hours, we were able to get a corrective action plan.
And we had that for every one of our systems, whether it was a satellite system, an early-warning system, a tank, an aircraft carrier. Absolutely across the board we were ready, and every one of our installations was ready. That cost money.
Now, in the process, I think we have probably never had as good an understanding or a positive control over our command-and-control system as we have today. And that was a by-product of this investment. It wasn't the reason we made the investment, but it's certainly one of the lingering positive benefits of the investment.
Q: John, if you look in the future here, do you see making similar investments on a routine basis, not the $3 billion a year, but it's part of the -- long-term budgeting process? Do you see a shift in priorities?
DR. HAMRE: There is going to be, in large measure building on this infrastructure, a continuing investment in information security associated with our information systems. We will have in the budget that we will submit a fairly robust new security system, a key infrastructure system that we'll be putting in for DOD computer systems; encryption, a much stronger program for encryption, et cetera. That's all going to be built on what we have learned from this and using the foundation of the year 2000 --
Q: (Inaudible) -- in rough order of magnitude?
DR. HAMRE: The ground rule -- (inaudible) -- was to say that we are talking about, you know, a quarter of a billion dollars probably.
Q: Just to sort of tidy up the record on one last point. You are a senior member of the intelligence community. To the best of your knowledge, were there any other failures across the intelligence community in any of the aspects, or was this it?
DR. HAMRE: This was it, and I confirmed it today.
Q: And also, to the best of your knowledge, did any U.S. allies suffer any failures in their intelligence?
DR. HAMRE: I honestly don't know the answer to that.
Q: But no one has --
DR. HAMRE: No one has reported that we had a problem, and none of our important liaison arrangements reported any difficulties.
Q: In the year-long march-up to Y2K, we were told repeatedly that some of these bugs may not even appear to crop up in the system for weeks after the rollover. And also we were told that there could also be a problem of the leap-year rollover.
DR. HAMRE: Yes. Yes.
Q: Is that still a concern?
DR. HAMRE: Yes, it is.
Q: And if so, why do you feel confident then in closing the Watch Center?
DR. HAMRE: Well, we'll make a decision, if we need to stand up a temporary watch center, around the 28th, 29th period or maybe several days in advance. You know, if there were going to be a problem that showed up, it would have showed up really at this window. It doesn't mean that we're entirely out of the woods because it is possible that a system may not have been properly engineered to recognize the problem on the 28th to the 29th and from the 29th to the 1st. And as I mentioned earlier, we'll also be watching at the very end of the year. Some computer systems actually do a straight ordinal count -- days -- during the year, and we'll want to make sure on the 31st of December that those systems were ready to count 366 days not 365. So we'll be monitoring.
But I think that if we were going to have a significant problem, it would have shown up here. We will still have a special watch, and we will do that especially on this one system that had our hiccup over the weekend.
Q: In the countries that are not necessarily our close allies, but to which the U.S. was paying a lot of attention during this period -- Russia, China, North Korea, et cetera -- did you, in the final analysis, see any anomalies, failures that you could monitor by remote means in any of the systems of those countries?
DR. HAMRE: I think the short answer to that is no. It's very clear that many countries took prophylactic action to shut down things. And they're not necessarily in the mode of telling you what's happened if problems have come up since then. We do know that a number of these countries took unusual steps to make sure that they had few people online during the transition period. Whether they've had subsequent problems starting up again, I don't know.
Of the things that we could monitor through our normal intelligence methods, we were not a -- we didn't denote any significant failure.
Q: No regional blackouts or things like that, that you could see?
DR. HAMRE: No. No, we didn't. No, we didn't. And we didn't bring -- we have a few pictures, that I didn't bring today, that basically showed the lights were bright and running. We were watching all of that, you know, through other satellite systems that were working.
Q: Just to clarify, on the system that went down, you said you were unable to process information from that system. Were you able to store that information and process it later, or is it just lost forever?
DR. HAMRE: Some is lost forever.
Q: Given that you had the center out in Colorado and you were thinking about a long-term -- something like that for the long term --
DR. HAMRE: We still are.
Q: Did you use the opportunity to make inroads when you communicated with the Russians here in the last couple of days in putting together a time line or something for the follow-on activities?
DR. HAMRE: Of course, that operation is still going on and will, probably, till the 15th of the month. I think the target time for standing down the Y2K stability center is the 15th of January. Russian officers are on station right now, as we speak, side by side with American officers. We did a fairly extensive preparation in working with them, especially in the area of communications. We set up extra links to make sure that we had reliable communications. Proved out a lot of operational procedures that we'll use for the permanent shared early-warning center, which we still plan on pursuing with them. So this was, in many ways, a prototype.
Q: But you haven't -- there were issues regarding working out the details with the Russians and they hadn't agreed to it yet.
DR. HAMRE: Oh, and I think that still is the case. We haven't worked out all of the details associated with it. You know, Are the protocols established properly? Are the reporting channels and sequences appropriate? Should anybody else be a participant in it? These are all important issues that still have to be worked out.
Q: And other than the Yeltsin resignation, was there any reason these officers had to phone home?
DR. HAMRE: No, and we should say that for the independent means that we have and the responsibilities we have for monitoring command and control during periods of significant transition, everything works very normally there. We were very reassured by everything we saw.
Q: Mr. Secretary, some people might say that the intelligence community got it wrong about Y2K. On October 12th, the NIO for Science and Technology told Congress that Y2K problems could, quote, "cause or exacerbate humanitarian crisis around the world." The intelligence community warned that Russia, Ukraine, China, Egypt, India and Indonesia were, quote, "especially vulnerable" because of supposedly inadequate preparation. How do you think that stands up to scrutiny?
DR. HAMRE: Well, first I think we should be glad that we didn't have more problems. I don't know all the problems that these countries may have experienced. As I mentioned, a fair number of them took prophylactic actions to limit the number of systems that were operational during the rollover period, first. Second, most of the countries that were late in getting going on year 2000 adopted palliatives that aren't long-term solutions, but got them through the transition period.
For example, rolling back the calendar inside a computer to 1972. I mean, that doesn't fix the problem, but it helps you defer the problem. And what we did, one of the reasons that we spent a good deal more money is we, frankly, fixed the problems rather than just simply worked around them in the short term. And in some cases we may have mis-estimated the degree to which these countries were dependent upon computer-controlled infrastructure. They may have had much more of a day-to-day, practical, manual work-arounds than we're used to. If we had a failing, it may be that we extrapolated to the rest of the world the kind of business practices that we have developed here in the United States.
Q: That sounds like mirror imaging, a -- (inaudible) --
DR. HAMRE: Well, I'm not going to condemn anybody. I think it was right for us to be alert and then to take every effort we could. We sent teams from DOD, I think to 65 or 70 countries, I mean, to try to help them become aware of the problem. I think if we had concluded early on, aw, we don't think it's going to be a problem, I think we would have missed an opportunity to help avoid the problem. So I -- but I wouldn't criticize anyone for having thought honestly. I think they were honest assessments, because we were saying that to ourselves internally, that we really did fear that there were going to be more significant problems than there were.
Q: Is it fair to say that, in the system that had its problem, that after you put the initial fix into place, that you were still -- for hours after that, you were still getting far less than a majority of the data that you would have normally gotten?
DR. HAMRE: I would say we were operating with less data than we normally would. It was not far less. And indeed, we got more data from the work-around system than we lost data, and, it turns out, significantly more. So the original backup process would have given us, still, again, more than half efficiency out of the system, significantly more than half, immediately.
Q: (Off mike) -- hours, once you plugged in the fix --
DR. HAMRE: Absolutely.
Q: -- you were getting --
DR. HAMRE: Absolutely.
Q: -- more than half --
DR. HAMRE: More than half of your normal, day-to-day peacetime activity. And that improved steadily during the next 2-1/2 days.
Q: You said that normally, had this not been a Y2K event, that we would not have been told about this, that this would be a classified matter. Can you tell us -- and I'm not asking for specifics -- is this problem unprecedented, or can you say that, generally speaking, from time to time there are failures in these kinds of systems?
DR. HAMRE: Yeah. No, every one of the systems, both the conventional military systems and intelligence systems has an availability rate. I mean, we program them to an availability rate. You know, we program to -- I'll make up a number -- 90 percent, 99 percent -- whatever it is, and there is a period of time when they're not available. And this was, frankly, well within the normal scale. Unfortunately, it was connected to Y2K, and we felt an obligation then to tell you about that.
Q: Other than the computer glitch, did it trigger any other extraordinary response?
DR. HAMRE: No.
Q: So the system then was operating at a deficit for -- until Sunday?
DR. HAMRE: Yes, and as I said, the deficit was, of course, its greatest in the initial phase, several hours afterwards. And then it got better consecutively over the end period. I don't know what it was at the very end, and I can't give you the percentages or anything.
Q: Did the fix require that you swap out hardware and software, or were you --
DR. HAMRE: No.
Q: So it wasn't a costly fix, it was a --
DR. HAMRE: No, it was done by --
Q: It was a repair job.
DR. HAMRE: It was a repair job and it was done by the staff that was there. I mean, they worked -- they hupped pretty hard, you know, for a couple of days, but it was done by our normal people who didn't have to go to extraordinary methods to be able to recover.
Q: Mr. Secretary, are you confident that the Russian strategic early warning system is out of the woods now?
DR. HAMRE: Well, the Russians -- by this, I think you mean the early warning system as opposed to strategic warning -- there is a difference, you know? We both, they and us, have a system of indications and warning that is broader and wider than simply the early warning system of radars and satellites.
But addressing narrowly the question you have asked, the Russian system has decayed in its capability over the last several years. But just last week, you know, they put a replacement satellite on orbit, and largely compensating for the problems that they've had earlier in the year. It is obviously less robust than it was four and five years ago, but it is still functional and they place good confidence in it. They had confidence enough to put up a replacement system three days before the rollover, and that's touchy.
Q: Can you put an adjective in front of your word "system"? The Russian systems --
DR. HAMRE: This is a satellite system and a radar base, including the ground-based radars.
Q: And they're intelligence-gathering systems?
DR. HAMRE: No, this is the early warning systems. Yeah.
Q: (Off mike.)
DR. HAMRE: Well, I was just speaking to their early warning system. The broader issue of their -- how they do indications and warning is, like ours, dependent on kind of the full fabric of intelligence and assessment capabilities, and I frankly don't know all of the capabilities that they have. I can't comment on that.
Q: Is that -- (inaudible word) -- dangerous? In other words, might they react to a false alarm because the system is --
DR. HAMRE: No, I think that the broad indications and warning system is very robust. They still have very, very robust indications and warning system.
And in the context of that, they would look at an early warning -- just the tactical, as it were, early warning system, whether a satellite was all of a sudden showing a blank screen. None of the satellites -- none of their early warning systems were going to show hypothetical trajectories of an attack. I mean, that was implausible. But if they all of a sudden went fuzzy or went blank, the question was frequently asked, "Would that induce them to rash behavior?" And we've always said no, because they're going to put that in the context of the broad indications and warning system like we would. And you say, well, all of a sudden the screen went blank, but they haven't dispersed any of their bombers in the last week, they haven't deployed any of their submarines in the last week, their ICBM alert posture is no different than it was before, you know, the president is at the ceremony, he isn't in a bunker someplace.
I mean, there's a broad context of indications and warning that was always in place. And so even if there were going to be some anomalous activity on a radar scope or on a satellite terminal -- fortunately, that didn't happen -- but if there were, it would still be read in the context of the stability that comes from day-to-day watching each other in a strategic sense, and that we felt was always going to be intact.
Q: If the Russians did have blank screens or fuzziness or something, how confident are you that they would have even told you, that they would have come to the Y2K center for help, or in the next couple of weeks while it's still standing up? They have failures all the time. Do we often hear about them? What would make them come to you?
DR. HAMRE: Well, they probably -- their reaction is a little bit like mine when asked, should I come and tell you about a problem with a reconnaissance system that occurs, and the answer is probably no; they probably wouldn't.
That's why we offered to have them sit at terminals and look at U.S. terminals during this transition period in case there were a problem. We didn't expect them to call us saying, "My screen just went blank." So we thought we would at least create an environment where their officers could be sitting there and looking at our information, and they had secure, reliable communications back home.
Q: So is it the case, I guess, that we actually don't know for a fact whether or not they have had Y2K failures in their early warning system?
DR. HAMRE: Oh, I -- forgive me if I gave you the impression I knew. I don't know if they had Y2K failures in their early warning system. What I, in trying to answer, earlier, John's question, for things that we could watch -- for example, could we see activity at -- normal activity at a nuclear power plant, the answer is yes; that we could observe. So we didn't see any -- you know, we didn't see fire engines racing toward anything, you know, the --
Q: (Off mike) -- but in fact -- just to clarify and make sure I understand, the U.S. has no knowledge of whether or not the Russians had any failures in either their tactical or strategic warning systems?
DR. HAMRE: I personally do not know, and I have not seen, anything that suggests one way of the other that they did. We have not heard anything that they did. And there certainly has been no behavior that I know of out in Colorado that suggests that they had a problem.
Q: But on the tactical, you would only know if they came and told you?
DR. HAMRE: I am sorry?
Q: On tactical, you would only know if they came and told you?
DR. HAMRE: Oh, I think that's right. Yeah, I think that's right.
Q: Mr. Secretary -- I just -- let me just ask you because something you said I think is at variance with something the Pentagon said yesterday, a small detail. But you referred to the system having returned, I think, on Sunday or Sunday night to full operation.
DR. HAMRE: I am not exactly sure of the time,.
Q: In fact, the Pentagon said yesterday that it had returned to full operational status "this morning," meaning "Monday morning."
DR. HAMRE: I was -- I was told just, because I want to make sure I had this right, before I came down here that it was Sunday evening. I don't know exactly the time when it became -- when we were fully operational, when we were no longer in the backup mode.
Q: I see.
DR. HAMRE: I can now find out the precise --
RADM WILLARD: Sir, before midnight local time, Sunday night.
DR. HAMRE: Okay.
Q: Contrary to what the Pentagon said yesterday.
The second question was: The NRO security has been identified as being -- a certain area 58 at Fort Belvoir --
DR. HAMRE: I don't believe I have spoken one way or the other, anything about the details.
Q: I am just asking you for your reaction to what experts --
DR. HAMRE: I don't believe I have spoken one way or the other about the details of the systems.
Q: Can you confirm it or deny it or spare us --
DR. HAMRE: I am not going to speak about any of the operational details of the system.
Q: Well, could it be said that -- would it be accurate to say that the Y2K prevents program, the solutions that were applied, were highly successful?
DR. HAMRE: I think they were enormously successful. When you look at the scope of the systems that we had to fix -- and by the way -- I mean, we tested absolutely everything, and we found problems in the testing. We found problems first in the system tests, and then we found problems in the end-to-end testing. Fortunately, because we had gone through all of that, we didn't find problems in the real world, except for this one instance where we couldn't do end-to-end testing.
Q: Of the 4(000) or 5,000 nonessential, noncritical systems, where you said you had a handful of failures of one kind, can you give us examples of what we are talking about --
DR. HAMRE: Yes.
Q: -- the -- (inaudible) -- center or what?
DR. HAMRE: There was -- we had a communications site where the swipe card to get entry to the building didn't work. We had -- I mentioned I think, there was a cash register at an MWR facility in Okinawa that didn't work.
We had a couple of computers that wouldn't do the rollover. They would turn them off and then turn them back on again and they operated fine. It was just making the transition automatically that didn't work. And these were all in support activities. I think each of the services has a list.
There were none, other than this one with the reconnaissance system, that was judged to have any significance at all militarily. Fortunately, the reconnaissance system, while it was potentially significant, it turned out not to have significant consequences. And for everything else, it didn't even met the threshold for reporting up to the command center here. So they were in the nature of the local drycleaner guy that didn't get his computer working.
Q: One of favorite themes in this last four years is trying to integrate the commercial and the military world. To what extent did all the remediation efforts on Y2K bring in commercial vendors to the extent you hadn't done that before? And is there a foundation there to build on in terms of bringing in more commercial companies to help you out?
DR. HAMRE: Well, we, of course, have shifted dramatically over to the use of commercial products, especially for command and control purposes. In each case, where it was a classified system, we used appropriately cleared vendors for purposes of the remediation effort. Where it was a non-mission-critical system or did not involve classified information, we contracted out. We didn't do this reprogramming ourselves. We hired people to help us do this.
I think we've learned in the broadest sense that the best revolution for updating our systems is to try to stay up with what industry is doing. There's been a huge revolution in DOD command and control over the last five years as we've tried to adapt ourselves to the revolution of Internet, and it's made a huge difference to us. So the premise that you've raised, Tony, is right; it's just that it wasn't particularly unique to Y2K.
MR. BACON: Thank you very much.
Q: Thank you.
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