Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Friday, December 03, 2010

DADT Review

The Pentagon has concluded their review of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

The military can deal effectively with allowing openly gay servicemembers in its ranks, leaders of a working group that studied the issue for the Defense Department told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

Group co-chairs Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh C. Johnson, DOD general counsel, testified along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a hearing about possible repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

“After nine months of study, I am convinced that if the law changes, the United States military can do this, even in a time of war,” Ham said.

The department released the report on effects of possible repeal and an accompanying implementation plan Nov. 30.

Some highlights: 69% of troops said they served with someone they knew or thought to be gay and 92% had no problem with it.  About 70% think repealing it would have either no effect or a positive effect on the military.

What strikes me about the report is both how thorough and how sensible it is.  Gates is calling for a slower rollback of the policy than would be imposed by a court mandate, one that makes sure combat units are not disrupted.

The list of countries that officially ban gays is small—Bulgaria, Jordan, Poland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and us—although the list of those who unofficially ban them is longer (I don’t think Sierra Leone or Iran have an official policy, but I doubt they let gays serve).  Australia, Finland, Germany, South Korea, and the UK—just to name five countries I’d want with me if I were walking through a dark alley—are among those that allow gays to openly serve.  We now have the Pentagon’s blessing.  General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, Secretary Gates and our Commander-in-Chief all support it.  The only significant objection I’ve heard is from General Amos (Marine Commandant). And we’re still firing gays from mission-critical spots, most notably linguists who are critical to our counter-terrorism efforts.

I’ve been checking some highlights of the hearings (Jon Stewart looks at them here) and the arguments against are sounding increasingly weak—especially from McCain, who is trying to wriggle out of his early statements on DADT.  His latest is that we should have surveyed the troops to find out if they wanted to repeal DADT.  This is a fool’s argument for two reasons.  First, the military is not a democracy.  Second, the report specifically notes that in Canada and the UK, more than 60% of the troops said they would leave if gays were allowed but the ultimate impact was minimal.  He’s also attacking the methodology of the survey, which is grasping at straws.

So ... why not start rolling this back?  There’s a part of me that wants this punted to the next Congress, so that the GOP’s bullshit and subservience to the Religious Right is out in the open.  But I think this is more important than politics.  As I’ve said before, DADT was a good policy in its day, allowing us to get into the water slowly rather than jumping right in and splashing everyone.  But it’s time for it to go.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 12/03/10 at 07:35 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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