You heard it first here:  The Community has solved the problem regarding generalist or specialist!!During the years leading up to world war two, promotions were slow and difficult for the officers and men who were assigned to the growing cryptologic organization known as OP-20-G.

Officers were expected to serve at sea in billets which would reflect well rounded backgrounds.  Unfortunately, years of duty at sea, performing functions completely alien to the needs of a cryptanalyst did not bode well for the OP-20-G.  When officers returned to the OP-20-G organization they were often out of date with the encryption techniques the Japanese were using and had to spend time getting up to speed.  Eventually, sometime after the war the navy decided to identify officers to specialize in cryptology and established the restricted line/special duty officer (cryptology).  The problem was solved – at least for the time being.

The same limitations applied for the enlisted personnel.  They were required to compete for advancement in rate against the fleet sailors, taking examinations which were designed to test the men in U.S. Navy communication procedures; all the while they were trained to intercept and analyze Japanese Fleet communications and study Japanese command and control and organization.  And for those new cryptographic clerks, they came out of the fleet yeomen structure and were now far removed from such duties.  Now they were working on encrypted radio traffic, a far cry from typing letters and handling personnel records.  In mid-1936 this changed; for the first time those radiomen and yeomen that were engaged in radio intelligence were given examinations written by OP-20-G.  This method of giving advancement examination continued until 1942 when examinations became a war-time command function.

Ironically, over eighties years later, the U. S. Navy cryptologic community is wrestling with similar issues among the cryptologic warfare officers.  Today, the cryptologic warfare community has three areas of disciplines: signals intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber operations.  Although the view for specialization is beginning to soften, there are still many in the community that believes there is a need to be a generalist across the three disciplines.

Generalist or specialist: Regardless of where you stand in this argument you can bet others are specializing in these core areas.

What’s your thought?

Mario Vulcano