What’s in a name? If one were to ask Shakespeare’s Juliet, the answer would likely be “not much”. She would tell you that the substance of an individual is more important than his/her title or status and that names are artificial and even meaningless. I would disagree. Certainly, the substance of an individual is important, but there is similar value in an individual’s name and title. It’s what identifies our very being. It points to our origin, our history, our heritage, and it clearly defines who we are and what we do. Furthermore, it clearly sets and defines other’s expectations of us.
Take a very simple, everyday scenario as an example. If I had a bad experience at a store and sought out resolution, I would ask to speak with a manager. Upon being approached by an individual identifying him or herself as a manager, I would enter the interaction with a preconceived notion of what that position could do for me. If upon stating my complaint, the individual replied that the title was arbitrarily assigned and that all he/she does is stock the shelves, I would be quite disappointed. Such a scenario is hard to imagine. The more likely outcome would be that the manager would listen to my complaint and address my concerns from a position of authority. In this case, the individual’s title matters much.
It’s no different in any other job field and yet, we, as 1810 “fill in the blank” officers, have struggled with it for sometime. For the past ten years, I have had to caveat my answer to anyone’s question about what I do in the Navy. The conversation goes like this:
Q: “So, what do you do in the Navy?”
A: “I’m an Information Warfare Officer, but what I really do is cryptology. It’s what I did when I was enlisted and it’s what I do now – or at least what the Sailors that I lead do now.”
Some, even in our community, would question whether we truly do cryptology in the 21stcentury. Do we? Oxford defines cryptology as “the study of codes, or the art of writing and solving them.” Like it or not, that is exactly what we do. In fact, the very Sailors that we lead continue to hold the title of Cryptologic Technicians…and rightfully so. Consequently, I know what to expect from each of the disciplines based solely on their rate or title. Though the “codes” take different forms, our expectation of solving that code is the same as it was at our inception a century ago. In the case of linguists, the code is a foreign language. In the case of CTRs the code is special signals. In the case of CTTs it is various forms of radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum. In the case of CTNs the code is…well, code. Our job to study and solve that code, analyze the results, and provide the operational commander with actionable intelligence is as critical today as it was in WWII.
We are cryptologists. We lead cryptologists. We should be named Cryptologists.
14 December 2015 at 14:23
Even though “IW” doesn't mean anything specific in doctrine, it does cover what we do. “EMW” does not, “spectrum warfare” does not, “EW” alone does not, “cyber” does not, and “cryptology” only does because of understanding, history, and heritage. If it's got to change — which it's looking like it will need to if the name of the IDC changes to include “warfare” — then back to “cryptology” probably makes the most sense.
The problem with IW is that it is viewed by many in the joint environment as analogous to (doctrinal) IO, and we don't do all of IO. Yes, we “do”, but as then-VADM Rogers observed multiple times, “We don't do IO”. Our current community foundational principles confirm our expertise in SIGINT, cyber, and EW (specifically, “EMS and networks”), and knowledge of the rest of IO (MISO, MILDEC, OPSEC).
So, we either need to adjust our understanding of what we do, or adjust others' understanding of what we do. My only personal beef with “cryptology” is that very few of us actually do anything that can be described as “cryptology” — as others have said, it is effectively a euphemism that comes with a lot of implicit understanding. The fact is that we are called on to do a lot of things, but our expertise is expected in our core areas:
SIGINT, cyber, and EW.
14 December 2015 at 20:16
Thanks for reading and for engaging in the conversation. The discussion about what we do is an interesting one. Not just for cryptologists, but for all designators in the Navy. We all DO a lot of stuff (think staff duty). Our name need not reflect everything we do. What it should reflect is our core discipline(s) – which I would argue is in fact the studying and solving of codes (with the word “code” being used somewhat liberally for the present day). In my view, SIGINT, Cyber, and EW all involve codes to be studied and solved.
Would you agree that our Cryptologic Technicians do cryptology?