Mullen: Proposed Legislation Retains Prerogative
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., May 27, 2010 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday that he’s comfortable with proposed legislation that seeks to repeal the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military because it includes “very clear language” that gives senior leaders the final say in whether it’s implemented.
The proposed amendment, which Congress could put to a vote as soon as this week, wouldn’t immediately go into effect if passed, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told about 500 servicemembers at a town hall session here.
Implementation wouldn’t take place until after a Defense Department study assessing its impact is completed, the chairman explained, and military and defense leaders get to weigh in on the findings.
The review, expected to be completed by December, is progressing well, the chairman said, “but by no means is it over.”
Mullen said he’s particularly interested in determining how the law’s repeal would affect “readiness, unit cohesion and our ability to do our mission.” That, he said, requires input from the people directly affected.
“That was what was behind making sure we surveyed our people and our families -- to understand … the potential impact,” he told the group. “And I, as a senior military leader in the country, feel obligated to make sure I understand that, so should it change, I can lead that and understand what the impacts are.”
After reviewing results of the study, Mullen, the service chiefs and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would provide their recommendations to President Barack Obama. “So having that information will inform me and our leaders about what our recommendations will be,” he said.
Mullen called the “certification trigger” provided in the proposed amendment critical.
“The language in there right now preserves my prerogative – and I believe, my responsibility – to give the best military advice,” he said.
“That trigger is to certify whether we should move ahead with that change, even if the law were to repeal it,” he told a reporter following the session.
Mullen brought up the issue at the end of his town hall session after no one had asked about it. He occasionally gets questions about it when he meets with servicemembers, the chairman told reporters traveling with him, but just as often doesn’t. “I haven’t found it to be a particularly burning issue,” he said.