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NSA Historical Figures

James R. Chiles

2004 Hall of Honor Inductee

James Richard "Dick" Chiles was probably first introduced to Communications Security (COMSEC) while serving on a patrol ship in the Atlantic during World War II. When wounds put him out of active service, he went to work at Arlington Hall, headquarters for U.S. Army code and cipher work during World War II.

After the war, Mr. Chiles remained at Arlington Hall and eventually became part of the Armed Forces Security Agency and later NSA. Through the 1950s, he was a member of several panels and working groups that negotiated with the British on COMSEC devices for shared activities. He moved quickly through the ranks in the COMSEC organization and became chief of the Office of COMSEC Doctrine in 1960. As Chief of that organization, he oversaw development of rules for safeguarding cryptomaterials throughout the U.S. government.

Mr. Chiles stayed in the upper echelon of COMSEC circles until his retirement more than a decade later.

Remembered as a brilliant engineer, Dick Chiles was a "conceptualist" with many innovative ideas on how to protect U.S. communications. He was responsible for major innovations in remote keying for COMSEC devices, including high-speed electronic key generators. He also developed rules for the accounting and handling of COMSEC material.

David Boak, a retired senior COMSEC leader, called Dick Chiles "our premier conceptualist" and recalled that he had been "enormously influential in decisions on the final configurations of every cryptomachine and in the evolution of physical, crypto-, and transmission standards over the… decade and a half [after 1960]."

Dick Chiles retired with thirty years of Federal service. He passed away in July 2004.