The Army is taking inspiration from the connection-based protocol of the Internet, TCP (transmission control protocol) in order to improve the reliability of their communications during war operations, where exactness and confirmed receipt of information is critical.
This is the same protocol used by your web browsers to transfer information from website servers onto your computer, for example, and it is broadly used in other ways. The Army is now requiring their soldiers and operators to use TCP for any official verbal communication.
Per order 20143-AO-3 (“Confirmed Communication 2021”), all mission-critical military communication will be conducted as follows.
- Conversation initiator requests a conversation with another individual.
- The other individual confirms receipt of the request and requests that the conversation now begin.
- Conversation initiator tells the other individual that the conversation shall commence.
- Ordered, error-checked segments of information are transferred. For each piece of information:
- The speaker will confirm that the listener has already acknowledged all prerequisite information.
- The speaker will speak the current segment of information and prompt the listener to respond in a way that shows they understand what was said.
- The listener will respond stating their interpretation of the information segment.
- If the listener’s interpretation was correct, the speaker will continue to the next segment of information. Otherwise, they will initiate a retransmission.
- When all information has been transmitted and received, the speaker will say “conversation finished.”
- The listener will acknowledge that they are also finished with the conversation.
- The conversation is over.
As an example, see the following transcript.
Tom: Jim, let’s have a conversation?
Tom: Jim, let’s have a conversation?
Jim: Yes, Tom, let’s have a conversation.
Tom: Ok, conversation begins now.
Tom: First piece of information: Jesus is a man.
Jim: First piece of information received. The son of god is also human.
Tom: First piece of information confirmed transmitted. Second piece of information incoming. Jesus can walk on water.
Jim: Second piece of information received. The son of god has supernatural abilities to walk on the surface of liquid water.
Tom: Second piece of information confirmed transmitted. Third piece of information: men can walk on water.
Jim: Third piece of information received, but not understood. Men can walk on water.
Tom: Third piece of information clarification: At least one man can walk on water, because Jesus is a man and can walk on water.
Jim: Third piece of information clarification received. Jesus is a man and can walk on water, but not all humans can necessarily walk on water.
Tom: Third piece of information clarification confirmed transmitted.
Tom: Requesting to end conversation.
Jim: Confirmed request to end conversation.
Jim: Requesting to end conversation.
Tom: Confirmed request to end conversation.
Tom: Leaving conversation.
Jim: Leaving conversation.
As you can see, this protocol is quite tedious but allows critical operations to ensure that all information is transmitted correctly and in the correct order, which under certain circumstances is a worthwhile trade.
Sergeant Tom Johnson of Amherst Massachusetts expanded on this. “Verbal TCP is certainly a pain in the ass,” he said, “and I’m no computer nerd, but I’ve seen enough of my friends get blown up in combat that I’m willing to do my due diligence learning from the way computers talk if it means we can save lives.”
Major James Colleton gave insight into the future, telling me “This will give the USA an advantage over other nations who still use connectionless communication protocols during their military operations. But, eventually they will catch up to us. And so we are working on next steps to incorporate TLS encryption into verbal communication methodologies, and perhaps even Onion Routing.”
“Will that be difficult?” I asked him, and he laughed at me a bit.
“Sure it’ll be difficult to get people to memorize encryption keys and do ciphertext operations in their heads. But anything you can program a computer to do, we can program our soldiers to do. And if we can do it through conventional education techniques, another possibility is to use brain chip prosthetics to provide encryption capabilities to human brains. These chips would encrypt soldiers’ speech thoughts, and they would need to learn to speak the encrypted gibberish. Then anyone with the speaker's public key in their brain chip could decode the speech.”
“The future sure does sound interesting.”
“Sure does. Since implementing verbal TCP, we’ve seen significantly fewer battle casualties and friendly fires. And I expect we’ll find even more success after implementing verbal encryption as well.”
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