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Survey Will Permit Informed Decisions, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2010 – Survey responses on the possible repeal of the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military will allow leaders to make informed decisions, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.

Morrell said many stories that have resulted from advocacy groups leaking a 103-question survey e-mailed this week to 400,000 servicemembers “have been inflammatory in the worst case, and misleading in the best case.”

Defense Department officials wanted the survey to remain confidential, Morrell said, but the distribution of the survey to 200,000 active duty servicemembers and 200,000 reserve-component personnel worked against that aim.

The survey was designed to be a confidential conversation between the a Defense Department working group studying the matter, in particular, and a large representative sample of the force, Morrell said.

“We thought it would be breaking faith with them for us to be proactively sharing the survey,” he said, “because what we are trying to do is preserve the credibility and integrity of the answers that it elicits from the force.”

Outside influence is not helpful to the process, Morrell said.

The survey is designed to get the attitudes of the force on how to proceed if Congress repeals the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, and is not a referendum on whether or not the law should be repealed, Morrell said. The answers, he added, will inform the working group’s deliberations.

Pentagon officials worked with a professional and reputable polling firm to produce the survey, Morrell noted. Roughly the first third of the 103 questions seeks demographic information. The second third asks about professional and military experience. The final third asks how the law’s repeal might affect the individual being surveyed, he explained.

The working group led by Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, already has spoken with 14,000 servicemembers, Morrell said. Another 33,000 servicemembers have interacted with the department electronically, he added.

Of the responses to date, Morrell said, many included concerns about privacy issues. “Clearly,” he said, “a component of this scientific survey had to deal with privacy questions.” Ten survey questions address privacy issues surrounding bathing facilities, living facilities and social settings.

“We think it would be irresponsible to conduct a survey that didn’t address these questions,” Morrell said, “because when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is repealed, we will have to determine if there are any challenges in those particular areas, any adjustments that need to be made in terms of how we educate the force, or perhaps even facility adjustments that need to be made to deal with those scenarios.

“But we won’t know any of that until we get a sense from the force of their attitudes,” he continued. “It could turn out, based on this survey, that there are far fewer concerns than we are led to believe. There could more or different concerns than we had anticipated.”

But Defense Department officials need the information generated from this survey to make smart decisions, Morrell said.

“We need people to participate in this survey to get a scientific understanding of the attitudes of the force, or the concerns, or issues or opportunities that may result from a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he said.


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Related Sites:
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Online Inbox (Requires Common Access Card)
Special Report: Policy Review: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Related Articles:
Gates, Mullen Urge Participation in Survey
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Surveys Hit Servicemembers’ Inboxes


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

7/26/2010 10:23:03 AM
Not one question about whether the servicemember would follow orders if orders to integrate were given. One wonders why? Not one question about whether existing rules prohibiting public displays of affection or unwarranted sexual advances would adequately cover the situation. Not one question about whether the most qualified member of a unit would help save the country, even if they were gay. HHHmm, wonder if there is a hidden agenda?
- Triathlete, california

7/14/2010 3:29:28 AM
I don't think that a straight guy wants to share a shower with a gay guy anymore than a straight woman wants to share a public shower with a straight guy! It is just a fact that something will have to be done to assure more privacy.
- Denise, AL

7/12/2010 2:09:33 PM
I'm confused! Is the story really about what the Army is doing now to stay on mission with getting survey information from servicemembers? Or, is it shifting to shine a light on the Army is quick to catch when there has been a tremendousbreach of protocol?
- Anthony Lewis, DFAS

7/12/2010 9:46:29 AM
I have a powerfuld disdain for the fact that Congress appears to be ready to cram this down our throats prior to the end of the DoD assessment of the situation. I am, however, glad that we have venues for expressing our concerns. At least our senior leaders seem to care about us.
- MSgt Jack Padilla, Lackland AFB

7/11/2010 12:46:22 AM
I was very disappointed to read the survey sent to the members of the US military regarding DADT. Although you may have put a lot of time and thought into this survey, I suspect that you did not thoroughly vet it's content with LGBT individuals or organizations. There is a clear bias in the survey against the repeal of DADT. Using the word "if" instead of "when" undermines the entire process. I do hope you will revise the survey to more fairly represent the many LGBT members of the service who currently are serving and who have honorably served in the past.
- Robert Mason, Los Angeles, CA

7/10/2010 11:05:52 PM
This survey is an obvious sham, with the questions written to achieve the desired, closed-minded answers of the homophobes. Still, there are many who can't wait to believe the official results. Just remember, the secret to success is sincerity. Once you learn to fake that, you've got it made.
- John Rochat MD, Fort Bragg, CA

7/10/2010 9:29:26 PM
As an Army veteran, I am saddened that this survey may reinforce fear, ignorance and intolerance of gay and lesbian patriots.
- Michael Myers, New Jersey

7/10/2010 8:45:19 PM
I urge you to pull the survey on DADT and find a polling company that will phase the questions in an objective many and in a way that solicits responses from leading questions.
- Michael , Yonkers NY

7/10/2010 7:49:45 PM
Mr. Secretary; as with General McChrystal, the job of the troops is to execute the law of the land and the orders and policies of the command structure. The idea of surveying the troops over a policy issue is akin to asking them if they should be deployed...they are in the service and are expected to follow the company line, agree or not. If they cannot live up to this standard, then they have no business wearing the U.S. uniform. Insert "person of color" of "female" or Muslim" and you would not even consider this procedure. I am embarrassed for the DoD, and only hope you heed the wants of more than 80% of our citizens. If our soldiers cannot get past this, I am sure there are those that can, and NO ONE is irreplaceable. Thank you- a concerned and proud Washington native.
- jeff milligan, las cruces, New Mexico

7/10/2010 6:06:32 PM
As noted in many of your own EEO policy documents, "What is offensive is in the “eyes of the beholder.”" Some of the questions asked, the words used, and the general tone of the DADT survey are offensive to many gays and lesbians, particularly those in uniform. It is repulsive for DoD to say that outside comments regarding this survey are inflammatory or misleading. Since DoD and the Services have said they will discharge those who out themselves in this review process, outside influences are not helpful, THEY ARE REQUIRED to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The advocacy groups have spoken, many with the input of gay servicemembers, and this survey was written with little apparent regard for the gay military personnel and their families who have been forced to serve in silence for 17 years.
- Richard L., Norfolk

7/10/2010 3:12:15 AM
None of the questions assumes that the participant might be gay or lesbian. Odd
- Ian Mac, London

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