The various strategies now being propounded for nuclear attack submarines will push them forward as far as they can go to achieve ASW and other objectives. The further they go the more likely they will run into enemy coordinated operations against them by not only submarines but surface and air units as well.
These coordinated enemy operations will require communications among their coordinating units. The simplest of such communications are by plain language voice in languages few Americans would understand. To intercept such foreign talk could be vitally important to our submariners in battle; but only if such communications are at least partially understood. The “talk” could be in any of the many languages used in the Soviet empire and Warsaw Pact Nations. And it is unlikely that we will have human translators aboard. Enemy communications could be by underwater sound channels or by various radio frequencies. Or it could be by digital code of some sort.
There are now computer programs capable of receiving digitalized spoken words and translating them into written words. There are computers which can translate from one language to another. And this can include coded language. Such computers are dropping in price at an amazing rate. Soon optical and solid-state discs can contain billions of bites of information storage which is rapidly available on request.
It is recommended that each tactical commander be equipped with a computer which can receive any intercepted voice communication or code and translate it to English on a screen and on a printer. A date time group and bearing of the transmission and other pertinent information could be permanently stored for further tactical or crypto analysis. The language used in translation should be selectable, even if only by trial and error.
The terminal readout should be immediately available to the CO even if some parts are screened by expert communicators. Also, these translations of enemy voice communications should be made available to all tactical commanders, not just SSN CO’s.
Possibly, the computer envisioned here would be of such power that it could also satisfy the growing awareness of the need for computer-stored tactical doctrine.
Many of our potential enemies speak our language but few of us speak theirs. This system would thus partially remove this disadvantage. It might also prevent the enemy from using the most advantageous kind of real-time tactical communication — voice, in his native tongue.
One feels very stupid and mystified when listening in on foreign language communications