Defense: Spy system is only major Y2K failure

Defense: Spy system is only major Y2K failure

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Defense Department officials acknowledged that a ground system for processing spy satellite data was the most significant casualty of the year 2000 rollover, but they denied that intelligence-gathering capabilities were seriously hindered during the three-day outage.

The effect was insignificant, one official said.

'Not every intelligence-gathering system in the whole inventory was down,' and those that weren't provided all mission-critical data, DOD spokeswoman Susan Hansen said.

Three hours

After the year 2000 rollover, deputy Defense secretary John J. Hamre acknowledged that ground systems for processing classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite data went down for about three hours after midnight Greenwich Mean Time'from 7 p.m. to roughly 10 p.m. EST on New Year's Eve. Hamre said he did not receive information about the outage until about 2 a.m. EST on New Year's Day. He said that was the reason he did not mention the problem during his briefings before then.

To solve the problem, DOD officials installed a backup system, which worked at about 50 percent of the original system's capacity, NRO spokes- man Arthur Haubold said.

'The amount of information kept gradually increasing. It was almost at 100 percent by the time we got the fix in anyway,' said Haubold, who would not comment on how much the repair cost because NRO's budget is classified.

DOD has 'to a certain extent' redundant systems that let officials monitor events around the world 24 hours a day, DOD spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon said at a Jan. 13 press briefing.

'At no time were our intelligence collection systems blinded,' he said.

It is unusual for DOD officials to 'give away information about our capabilities or temporary lack of capabilities at any given time,' he said, adding that the outage was 'well within the type of temporary interruption that we experience on a fairly regular basis.'

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