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US nuclear forces have quietly kissed their floppy disks goodbye
For more than 50 years, the Defense Department has used 8-inch floppy disks to control the operational functions of the United States' nuclear arsenal — until now.
This past June, the Air Force replaced the floppy disk with a new "highly secure solid state digital storage solution" in the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS) that coordinates the Pentagon's land-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-missile-armed submarines and long-range strategic bombers, 595th Strategic Communications Squadron Lt. Col. Jason Rossi told C4ISRNet on Oct. 17.
SACCS, which attained full operational capability in January 1968 and ran for decades on an IBM Series/1 computer system dating from the 1970s, is the primary network used by U.S. Strategic Command to transmit Emergency Action Message (EAM) to nuclear-capable forces regarding the execution of various attack options in nuclear exchange.
SACCS is usually represented in American pop culture by an emergency flash to a pair of extremely-nervous missile-men in a subterranean launch facilities, a la the famous opening sequence in the 1983 Cold War classic War Games.
"Turn your key, sir!" The famous silo scene from 1983's 'War Games' youtu.be
This solution has been a long time coming. A 2016 Government Accountability Office report on the problem of federal legacy computing systems stated that Pentagon planned on "updat[ing] its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017," including a $60 million "full system replacement" of SACCS scheduled for completion in fiscal year 2020.
According to the GAO report, SACCS in fiscal year 2016 cost $5.6 million for 175 users across the U.S. armed forces to operate and is expected to cost approximately $135 million to operate throughout its lifecycle, which was anticipated to end around 2030.
An example of an 8-inch floppy disk used among U.S. nuclear forces(Government Accountability Office)
As C4ISRNet notes, it's unclear exactly which upgrades, if any, have been fully implemented yet. But according to the GAO report, they can't come soon enough.
"According to Defense officials, the system is made up of technologies and equipment that are at the end of their useful lives," the report says. "The system is still running on an IBM Series/1 Computer, which is a 1970s computing system, and written in assembly language code ... Replacement parts for the system are difficult to find because they are now obsolete."
Despite the looming problems facing the old floppy-based SACCS, 595th SCS commander Rossi told C4ISRNet that the legacy system offered an advantage that will never be obsolete: security
"I joke with people and say it's the Air Force's oldest IT system. But it's the age that provides that security," Rossi told C4ISRNet of the SACCS in an October interview. "You can't hack something that doesn't have an IP address. It's a very unique system — it is old and it is very good."
I'm just gonna leave this here:
On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.
As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.
Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.
"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.