This pretty much summarizes the Army's problem: ". . . defense systems could cease to protect our country from potential invaders." This appears in an official publication of the U.S. Army. Yet I am dismissed as a doomsayer, an apolcalyptic for saying such things. I just said them early.
The world's problem is not my doomsaying. Its problem is the Millennium Bug.
How big is the Army's repair task? Consider this:
"We've also identified some 19,000 local systems on installations across the Army, 300,000 PCs and servers, 49,000 communication hubs, routers and software, and 30,000 computer-driven facility-services devices -- such as heating and air-conditioning systems -- that could be affected."
This is from SOLDIERS (June).
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The Army Year 2000 Project Office is spearheading the effort to prepare the Army's computers for the year 2000. In the civilian world, airline flights and other forms of transportation could be canceled as computers that track aircraft and vehicle maintenance ground the systems for "long-overdue" overhauls. In the military, ammunition and MRE stocks could be destroyed for far exceeding their shelf lives.
And security systems that automatically lock doors and vaults could go haywire. Banks could lose all reasonable track of their accounts. People who have lived on this planet for decades could, in the computer's "mind," become newborns again, with all the negative implications that would entail. And, worst of all, defense systems could cease to protect our country from potential invaders. Consider, for example, that satellites of the Global Positioning System keep track of the date by counting the weeks since Jan. 6, 1980.
"The count is maintained as a 10-bit value," the American Scientist article reported. "Thus, it has a maximum range of 1,024 weeks." In August 1999, the counter will roll over, and GPS receivers will read it as 1980.
In a 1997 test in which the Global Command and Control System was advanced to 2000, the system simply crashed, according to a Washington Post article on the "Y2K" dilemma. The Army -- in concert with the other military services and other integrated computer system users worldwide -- is working feverishly to avert this looming digital disaster, said William Dates of the DISC4 office. . . .
"We've also identified some 19,000 local systems on installations across the Army, 300,000 PCs and servers, 49,000 communication hubs, routers and software, and 30,000 computer-driven facility-services devices -- such as heating and air-conditioning systems -- that could be affected," Dates said.
About half of the systems identified have been "noncompliant," meaning the Army can bet that without modifications they will not function properly when the year 2000 arrives. The good news, Dates said, "is that most of the major weapon systems are compliant because they measure time in seconds or nanoseconds -- from launch to target -- and don't deal in months or years."
Special consideration has been given to potential interface failures. The Patriot missile system, for example, can link to 19 communication, intelligence and command systems at once, a Defense Department spokesman said.
Software in all of those "other" systems has been checked to ensure the Patriot will function properly in 2000.
Command, control and communication systems, logistics systems and personnel systems will be most affected, Dates said, because they follow calendar time to process and sort information in proper sequences. . . .
Some systems are centrally managed by a major command, Dates continued. "Other systems that were bought and maintained within a particular command are the responsibility of that command." Individual organizations are responsible for identifying and fixing potential year 2000 computer problems, and should address questions and concerns to their local director of information management.