DoD Approves "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Harass" Plans
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2000 DoD has approved service plans to train military personnel in the intricacies of the "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" homosexual policy.
Service members will receive training in the policy at all levels of professional military training. They will also receive periodic "refresher" training at their units.
The top civilians and uniformed members of each service have also issued strong statements highlighting Defense Secretary William Cohen's addition of "don't harass" to the policy. The statements also stress the need for commanders to apply the policy fairly.
DoD spokesman Ken Bacon also announced the number of discharges under the "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" policy dropped in fiscal 1999. A total of 1,034 service members were discharged in fiscal 1999 down from 1,145 in fiscal 1998. Bacon said about 83.5 percent of the discharges were statement cases -- those where service members went to their commanders and declared their homosexuality.
Defense officials said the training is standard through the services. There are "cultural" differences in the way the services present the training, but the main points are the same, said Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
The training will continue at recruit training and in at officer entry training. It will expand to all levels of NCO and officer professional military education. For Army enlisted personnel, for example, this means the "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" policy will be covered at basic training, at the Primary Leadership Development Course, and at the basic, advanced and Senior NCO academies.
Air Force officers, for example, already receive training prior to commissioning. Now they will also receive "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" training at Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
In addition, service members selected as commanders will receive specialized training, as will judge advocate general personnel.
Finally, all personnel in all services will receive yearly "refresher" training in the policy, Bacon said.
"The idea here is to make the training more uniform, to make sure that it's uniform, and to first stress that this policy is part of a nondiscrimination policy in the military," Bacon said. "It's to make sure that everybody understands exactly what the policy is and what it isn't, what it allows and doesn't allow, and to make sure that this is being communicated uniformly throughout every service."
In some cases, the training requirement tells commanders how much time to spend on each section of the policy, Bacon said.
The "don't harass" portion of the training will be stressed at first. "If a service member comes to the commander and says, 'I'm being threatened or harassed because people suspect or allege that I am gay,' ... the commander's responsibility is to investigate the threat," said Frank Rush, deputy undersecretary of defense for planning.
If there has been a threat or harassment, the commander must take appropriate action against those who threaten or harass. "Because [the harassment] not only violates the specific direction from the Department of Defense and from the services, it's not conducive to good order and discipline for any service member for any reason not to treat other service members with dignity and respect," Rush said.
In December Cohen asked the DoD Inspector General to examine the climate at installations regarding the "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass" policy. Bacon said DoD IG teams are making progress in their review.
"The IG's people are currently surveying 38 bases at home and abroad," Bacon said. "They've created a very long questionnaire, which they are then giving to a random bunch of people. The first base they went to, the random bunch of people included a four-star general, so they are getting a sampling of people from all ranks.
"They are asking questions about how well the policy is understood at all levels in the military, from E-1 up to O- 10," he continued. "They are also asking how well the policy is implemented and trying to get a sense of the general climate under the 'don't ask, don't tell, don't harass' policy throughout the military."
The IG report is due out in March.