The U.S. Navy is taking an inventory of the skills possessed by its officers. For centuries, it was common for many military officers to possess skills not directly related to their jobs. Often it was the ability to speak foreign languages, or some scientific or commercial skill. Some officers were known to be very persuasive, or able to lie convincingly. Whatever the skill, knowledge of it only spread by word of mouth. If a commander needed someone with a special skill, he had to ask around. Not a very efficient way to find the guy you needed, and often not successful. Every time a war came along, and special skills were in big demand, there was talk of gathering the information ahead of time. But it was rarely done, and never made a standard procedure. Even with the introduction of computers, several decades ago, to maintain personnel records, didnt spur the military to catalog what odd talents the troops possessed. So now the navy is doing it, at least with its officers. If some success stories flow from this, its likely that the other services will finally do it themselves, for officers and the troops. Its long overdue.