Although the Data Processing Technician (DP) rating was not disestablished until its merger with the Radioman (RM) rating in 1997, serious discussions about this eventuality had begun in earnest some eight years earlier. In August, 1989, Vice Admiral J. O. Tuttle submitted a proposal to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations carefully pointing out the reasons for combining the two ratings and the benefits that would accrue from such a merger. Interestingly, the Vice Chief approved of Tuttle’s integration suggestion, due in no small part to Tuttle’s expertise in the communications field: He was largely responsible for bringing the practice of Over The Air Rekeying, a method of changing encryption keys used by a telecommunications system over the transmission channel itself. The integration of the two ratings was originally slated for May, 1990, but other events put such a move on the proverbial back burner.

One reason for Tuttle’s suggestion was that many Sailors working as Data Processing Technicians would, at some point in their careers, find themselves working closely and intimately with telecommunications systems. After graduating from the Data Processing Technician Class “A” Technical School in San Diego, Sailors would report to their first command and perform tasks designed to acquaint them with the Navy’s computer systems and the field of data processing: data entry, basic computer operations (many performed from MS-DOS or Unix command prompts), handling of different types of media, and so forth.

Most of the commands to which these Sailors were assigned were shore facilities, but as the miniaturization of computer components and systems made them suitable for shipboard use, more and more DPs were deployed to ships at sea. Two of the main types of shore sites where Data Processing Technicians found themselves stationed were Naval Regional Data Automation Centers (NARDAC) and operations centers of the Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS). The WWMCCS was replaced with the Global Command and Control System a year before the disestablishment of the DP rating.)

Located throughout the world, the WWMCCS operations centers provided military forces and commands with instantaneous communications with the chain of command, all the way up the National Command Authorities (which includes the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense). Even in the early 1990s, the WWMCCS extensively employed computer networks and thus needed the computer expertise of DP Sailors. During their time spent at these operations centers, Data Processing Technicians became highly skilled in the different communications networks which comprised the WWMCCS Intercomputer Network used to maintain communications with other network subscribers across the globe.

Collecting and processing data meant the establishment and maintenance of communications links—work overlapped with many of the tasks formerly performed exclusively by Radiomen. And as that common area grew with the introduction of digital audio communications transmitted over networks, the inevitability of the merger of the two ratings was ensured.

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