DADT Day 2 Better Than Expected



At a second day of hearings on the Pentagon’s working study of “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, the respective heads of the military’s service branches presented split testimony that neither decisively doomed nor wholeheartedly endorsed repeal.

The vice chair of the Joint Chiefs, the Navy chief, and the commandant of the Coast Guard recommended repeal, while the chiefs of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps all expressed a varying degree of reservation about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” at this time.

Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, provided the most nuanced testimony of the day. He concluded that implementing repeal would pose only a “moderate risk” to both “effectiveness in the short term” and the “ability to recruit and retain our all-volunteer force over time,” but warned against immediate action.

“I would not recommend going forward at this time with everything the Army has on its plate at this point,” Casey said.

However, he added, the report had led him to believe that “the presumption that underpins the law — that the presence of a gay or lesbian service member in a unit causes an unacceptable risk to good order and discipline” — is a fallacy.

“After reading the report, I don’t believe that’s true anymore, and I don’t believe a substantial majority of our soldiers believe that’s true,” Casey said.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force, disagreed with the study’s assessment that “the short-term risk to military effectiveness is low” and recommended “deferring implementation until 2012.”

In later testimony Schwartz refined his point after Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called that time line “totally arbitrary.”

Schwartz clarified that he was more focused on not executing “full implementation” until 2012. “We could begin education and training soon after you acted to repeal,” he told Levin.

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