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Pentagon Swats The Y2K Bug

The U.S. military is so dependent on computers for everything from operating tanks to paying the troops that a senior Pentagon official had publicly warned year 2000 computer glitches could cause an electronic El Nino. On Thursday, that same official declared victory over the Y2K bug, reports CBS News Correspondent David Martin.

"We're ready. We anticipate absolutely no problems in the Department of Defense," said Deputy Defense Secretary John Hambre.

Of 2,100 critical computer systems, only two used by the agency which analyzes satellite photos will not be ready. All the others, like the targeting software for the Tomahawk cruise missile, have been tested, and declared ready to do battle with an enemy called Y2K.

"Rarely does a military organization know precisely the time and the date and the place when the enemy will attack. In this case we did," said Hamre.

Eighteen months ago, barely a quarter of the critical systems were ready and the military thought Y2K was strictly a problem for computer geeks.

"It was hard getting everybody focused that this was about war-fighting. This was not about computer technology. This was war-fighting," Hamre said.

The Pentagon has spent $3.5 billion fighting the battle of Y2K, including setting up a joint missile warning center with the Russians to make sure a computer glitch doesn't set off false alarms of an attack.

"We're going to make sure that there are no questions, concerns or problems between those two countres if there is a missile launch somewhere," said Lt. Col. Gregory Boyette.

Many of the world's militaries are not Y2K ready, but then they are not as dependent on computers as the American military. As the Pentagon's No. 2 man put it, only the U.S. has become so automated it's forgotten how to do it by hand.

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