To many, the 1997 merger of the Data Processing Technician (DP) rating into the Radioman (RM) rating seemed somewhat incongruous. While it could certainly be argued that Radiomen dealt in “data,” the overlap between the fields of communication and data processing was certainly not obvious to the casual observer. Indeed, when the Naval Occupational Development and Analysis Center studied the possibility of combining the two ratings into one in 1990, the findings were less than compelling. While there was an increasing number of tasks carried out by DPs and RMs that were either identical or highly similar, far too many other functions were unique to the individual ratings, and a Naval Computers and Telecommunications memorandum (N121A/0431) revealed that a merger of the two ratings was simply not possible at the start of the 1990s.

But others were far more visionary, perhaps because they had been working with the network we today call the Internet for decades under DARPA.

In April 1990, Vice Admiral J. O. Tuttle oversaw the merging of the Naval Telecommunications Command and the Naval Data Automation Command into the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Command. The move brought over 200 telecommunications centers and forty data-processing centers under one centralized authority, and in the process combined many of the data-processing installations so that their total number was reduce by more than fifty percent. At the time, the Navy was using the Defense Data Network, which Tuttle had the foresight to realize could be used to handle both messages and data processing.

A year later, a Naval postgraduate thesis unabashedly recommended the merger of Data Processing Technicians into the Radioman rating and outlined the various approaches that might be taken, from merging the two at the E7 to providing both ratings with common training—similar to the Basic Engineering Common Core employed by so many ratings since 2004—and then splitting the ratings at the E5 rate.

History has proven not only that the decision to merge the two ratings was correct, but also that the Navy is more than open to considering improvements that veterans—from enlisted goats to flag officers—might find strange or even upsetting.

Important: Due to the extremely low demand on this item, it is manufactured on order. While we might have some in stock, please allow for up to 10 business days processing time.

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