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National Security Desk / May 25, 2016

50-Year-Old DoD Computers Manage Nuclear Force

Houston, this isn’t North Korea.

Houston, this isn’t North Korea. The Department of Defense uses a computer system from the 1970s to coordinate the operational function of the nation’s nuclear forces, according to the Government Accountability Office. Yes, this system uses 8-inch floppy disks to manage nuclear bombers and ballistic missiles. This is just one computer system within the U.S. government that is woefully outdated, using IBM mainframe computers or programming language developed in the 1950s. Other systems are still creaking away in places like the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Treasury.

CNBC Reports the U.S. government spends about $80 billion a year in IT costs. While 75% of that allocation is already used to just upkeep the existing systems, that percentage is rising — it’s not like you can waltz down to the local computer store and order a new IBM mainframe or floppy drive. Better check the museum first. But in the meantime, the situation in the DOD is just another example of this nation’s deteriorating military. Russia, North Korea and Iran are no doubt pleased by this news about the state of America’s nuclear readiness. Thankfully, DOD plans to upgrade the system coordinating America’s nuclear forces by the end of fiscal year 2017. Hopefully the threat of nuclear attack does not escalate before then.

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