In between our cookouts, sun worshipping and extra day off, one hopes more than a few of us also take the time to pay tribute to those that have sacrificed so much for us. And while we often hear or read about aspects of military operations that don’t go as planned, when a Bin Laden is caught or an oppressive dictator removed from power we should all marvel at the dedication and incredible abilities of our armed forces, including their ability to communicate and coordinate.
Among history’s most amazing military communications endeavors dealt with efforts to “reverse engineer” and decipher enemy communications during World War II. As Germany’s “blitzkrieg” rolled over Europe, to ensure that the enemy would not intercept vital information, they used an electro-mechanical device called Enigma to encode the data. They believed that even if the enemy were to capture a machine, it would be useless unless both sender and receiver were also in possession of the same “key” which described how the message was encoded. The Poles and later the British would prove them wrong.
Ingenuity and espionage on the part of the allies and sloppiness on the part of the enemy would eventually break the system the Germans had thought unsolvable.
How important was this development? Very likely, say historians, the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic might have been lost, and England forced to capitulate. Further, America could have been denied a staging ground for the invasion of Europe and the War might have dragged on for another two years, with many more millions of lives lost. And, with Hitler working on intercontinental ballistic missiles, the entire tide of the War could have tragically shifted.
Today, pause, thank and remember.