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« No 2012 Obama? | Main | Army, Marine chiefs cast doubt on gay┬áservice »

DADT - At hearing, service chiefs say change would be difficult

Who would have thought this?  Difficult?  How about darn right retarded?

See my commentary here: Army, Marine chiefs cast doubt on gay service

Don't forget to read up on the poster child for DADT, Bradley Manning.

This jerk whistle isn't The Leaker. Trust me.

Ending the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy will be divisive and more difficult than a new Pentagon report suggests, according to the top commanders of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Their views provided arguments likely to be seized upon by Republican lawmakers and social conservatives who back keeping the military's gay ban and could keep enough moderate lawmakers from endorsing plans to end it in the coming week.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, the chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the commandants of the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard testified Friday before the Armed Services Committee, providing less sanguine opinions about ending the ban on gays in the military.

Despite reservations, all six service chiefs said they support ending "don't ask, don't tell" either now or in the future. They also agreed that Congress should end the ban to ensure a smooth transition and proper training instead of leaving the decision to federal judges that could end the ban immediately.

Signaling a willingness to eventually end the ban, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a vocal critic of the Pentagon report and efforts to do that this year, agreed with the chiefs that the law should be overturned.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, was most critical, warning that integrating openly gay and lesbian troops into combat units "has strong potential for disruption and will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat." He cited a study quoted in the Pentagon report that found most Marine combat soldiers are opposed to or concerned about ending the ban.

"I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back, on the negative perceptions held by our Marines who are most engaged in the hard work of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan," Amos said. "We asked for their opinions, and they gave them to us. Their message to me is that the potential exists for disruption to the successful execution of our current combat mission should repeal be implemented at this time."
Ending the ban would be more difficult for Army combat units than suggested by the study, according to Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff. The Army would have to closely monitor how officers "wrestle with implementing repeal simultaneously with the other challenges facing them after nine years of war." Allowing service members to be open about their homosexuality, however, would not keep the Army from carrying out its various missions, he said.

The views of Amos and Casey contrast sharply with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, who told the Senate panel Thursday that the military can and should end the ban. President Obama also backs ending "don't ask, don't tell" through legislation this year.

As for when the change should be made, Amos said the military should wait until "my Marines are not singularly, tightly focused on what they're doing in a very deadly environment. This is serious business for them. I think it will be repealed eventually. I just ask for the opportunity to do it with my forces when they're not singularly focused."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norman A. Schwartz was more direct, suggesting the military wait until 2012, "while initiating training and education efforts soon after you take any decision to repeal." The Air Force would successfully implement any changes ordered by Congress, but lawmakers should not act now because of current combat pressures on the force, he said.

Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sounded a more positive tone, suggesting that implementing a new policy would be manageable, "even during the high tempo of wartime operations." Transparency and careful training would be crucial, he said.

The chiefs of the Navy and Coast Guard, Adm. Gary Roughead and Adm. Robert Papp, signaled their services could move forward with ending the ban with little risk to readiness and operations. But Roughead raised concerns with how the military would train the forces and said the Pentagon study did not fully account for the costs associated with expanded benefits for gay troops. Repeating requests made Thursday by Gates and Mullen, the chiefs said Congressional action on the matter is critical. "Precipitous repeal is not - it is not - where your Armed Forces want to be," Schwartz said.

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