Marines plan barrage of tests to check systems for 2000 readiness

“The close fight that we’re dealing with right now is the year 2000,”
said the commander of Marine Forces-Pacific at the recent Armed Forces Communications and
Electronics Association’s TechNet Asia-Pacific ’98 conference.

The Marine Corps’ Pacific units have more than 26,000 PCs, ranging from 286s to
Pentium II machines, said Fulford, who commands more than 80,000 Marines and sailors at 12
installations in the region.

The Corps must test and evaluate all the PCs to ensure they will work in 2000, he said.

Marines in the region also maintain 150 mission-critical applications drawn from about
2,000 applications used by the Corps, Fulford said.

Marine Forces-Pacific has evaluated about half of the 2,000 programs, most of which run
on legacy systems that will probably be eliminated, he said. But computer systems are not
the only high-tech platforms that require year 2000 fixes, Fulford said.

“I recently learned something that even I didn’t know,” Fulford said.
“Our front-end loaders and bulldozers have microchips. So even things that pull dirt
out of the ground have to be checked and tested to make sure that they work.”

The interfaces that many Marine Corps’ systems have with systems run by allied
nations in the region complicates remediation efforts, he said.

“Whatever we do in the Pacific theater we do with allies, and our allies
aren’t moving along with the same degree of urgency with regard to the year 2000
problem as we are,” Fulford said.

The Marines are concerned that some allies in the region will not be sufficiently
prepared by 2000, Fulford said.

The Corps is not the only service that is worried about foreign system interfaces.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Hayden, deputy chief of staff for the United Nations
Command, the Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces in Korea, said that he is concerned
that South Korea’s commercial telephone system will not be ready in time.


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