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Mullen's Testimony Slight On DADT Detail

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Adm. Mike Mullen's hearing last week to be reconfirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff included just one reference to "don't ask, don't tell" and yielded little in the way of new information about his thinking on the policy.

The only question on the gay ban came from Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, who asked the admiral to draft recommendations on changing the policy before the Senate holds hearings on the matter, which they are expected to consider this fall.

Mullen provided written answers to questions on the matter in advance of his testimony, but he failed to address how a policy shift might be implemented.

"SLDN is very disappointed by Chairman Mullen's written responses to 'don't ask, don't tell' questions he submitted today to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Unfortunately, Mullen did not come to the Senate today to give a ringing endorsement of Pres. Obama's stated mission to end DADT," SLDN said in a statement. "We do, however, appreciate Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) raising DADT and hope Adm. Mullen will be far more responsive and comprehensive in his next response to the Senate Armed Services Committee."

Below is the text of Mullen's advance statements to questions on "don't ask, don't tell":

Q: President Obama has made it clear that he intends to work with the military and with Congress to repeal the policy regarding homosexuality in the Armed Forces, commonly referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." You have stated that you have begun discussions of this issue with other senior military leaders.

What is your view on repealing or changing this policy?


Mullen: Don't Ask, Don't Tell is commonly referred to as a Department of Defense policy but it is Public Law 103-160 910 (USC 654). Therefore, my view is quite simple: DoD policy must comply with the public law and only the Congress and the President can change the law. My responsibility is to guide the Armed Forces of the United States consistent with the law.

At the behest of Secretary Gates, Department of Defense legal counsel are currently examining whether the law allows a more flexible application of policy. I concur with the Secretary and fully support his efforts in that regard.

In determining whether and how to change the policy, we must act in accordance with law and in a thoughtful and deliberate way, taking into account the health and integrity of the force.

Q: What is your understanding of the views of the service chiefs and combatant commanders on this policy?

I cannot speak for the Service Chiefs or Combatant Commanders, but I am confident that they share my desire for a measured, deliberate approach to any change required by law.

Q: In your view, would changing this policy have an adverse impact on good order and discipline in the military?

Any change to the law would require sound policy revision and leadership. And, like any significant overhaul of military personnel policy, we must carefully consider its impact on military readiness. Whatever the decision, we will follow the law and remain focused on the supporting our troops in -- and preparing for -- combat.

Q: If the policy is changed by Congress, how lengthy a phase-in period would you recommend?

The truth is that I just don't know, and I would need some time to study this before coming back to you with an answer.

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