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Troops’ Opinions Matter in ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Review

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

FORT BRAGG, N.C., June 3, 2010 – Servicemembers’ opinions are “absolutely critical” in implementing policy for a repeal of the law that bans gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military, the nation’s top military officer said here yesterday.

“Your view and opinion of [gays and lesbians serving openly] is absolutely critical to address those issues,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told 18th Airborne Corps soldiers during a town hall meeting.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates directed a military-wide review of the impact of the repeal, including town hall meetings with servicemembers and their families. The review is to be completed by the end of December. Servicemembers and their families can comment on a possible repeal of the law at http://www.defense.gov/dadt through a special inbox set up to seek their feedback.

Gates and Mullen want to ensure troops are ready to make the change and can do so without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness, and recruiting and retention.

“One of the reasons the study and review is so important is because there isn’t any subjective data out there, particularly from you and those who will be most effected,” the admiral told the soldiers.

“Part of my testimony said how important the review Secretary Gates put in place is,” he added, speaking to remarks he made before Congress last week. “That review continues to be critical; it continues to be one we will work our way through over the next many months.”

Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, Mullen said, is a direction the military needs to move forward on.

“The law needs to change,” he said. “Fundamentally, it’s an issue of our values. It’s very critical for us as an institution, and I’m hard-pressed not to support policy and a law that forces individuals to come in and lie everyday.”

Mullen’s remarks on the topic were sparked by a senior non-commissioned officer’s question. The soldier expressed his concern for the possibility of hate crimes and increased cases of sexual harassment if the law changes.

Mullen told the soldier that disciplinary issues regarding sexual harassment have nothing to do with the change in the law and should not be tolerated, period.

“Certainly any change in the laws is not an excuse for anything like that to ever happen,” the admiral said. “We are a disciplined force. We have standards. Maintaining those standards, sustaining that discipline is our job, no matter what happens.

“I have every expectation that not only we will do this, but we will lead in a way [so] it gets done,” Mullen continued. “[But] that doesn’t mean we won’t have challenges.”

Ultimately, he said, troops and leaders need to have a greater understanding of the impact openly gay and lesbian servicemembers will have on the military.

“I want to understand what the possibilities are … what it’s going take to implement this and, in that regard, address the leadership challenges and implementation with expectations that at the small-unit level, not exclusively, it will be led and led well,” Mullen said. “I have a lot of faith in you that that’s doable.”


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Navy Adm. Mike Mullen

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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.

8/3/2010 7:15:48 PM

7/30/2010 3:17:05 PM
I think we have to be careful in what doors we open here. The reason being, we may not be able to control what comes through it. The Armed Forces of the U.S. should not be a proving ground for social experimentation. How Gay and Lesbians interact in regular society is different than in the military with close quarters. The folks in DC need to rethink this. The other part of this situation is what about people with religious convictions on Gay and Lesbian life styles, how will those people's beliefs be treated/respected? Christians and Muslims have strong beliefs about this type life style. How will our mid-East allies feel about this? Serving in the armed forces is not a right it is a privilege, serving when your country needs you is a responsibility. There are a host of concerns about this change. I am not convinced this move is in the best interest of our country. I urge all to let your congressman and or Senator know who you fell about this matter...pro or con.
- Pete, Tidewater, VA

7/19/2010 5:07:59 AM
Kekoa Says: Since when does a senior military leader make a choice for me? The very idea that an 'alternative' lifestyle should be allowed in the military is absurd. Take your <i>Namby Pamby</i> attitude to the Camp Fire Girls! I'm totally against gays in the military as it is. They make a mockery out of family values. Aloha, Kekoa Kapolei, HI
- George 'Kekoa' Furtado, Kapolei, Hawaii

7/15/2010 3:46:00 AM
Aaron- I will throw you a party the day you get out. because as far as i'm concerned people with your attitude have no business in the military. Why is THIS order different from any other? You don't have a say in anything else that goes on in the military, why the HELL should you have a say about this. You swore to uphold the constitution of the United States, which guarantees freedom for all of it's citizens, not just the ones YOU approve of. So if you can't or won't uphold your oath you SHOULD be released from your military service.
- Liz Zimmermmann, Everett WA

6/4/2010 12:51:04 AM
Interesting that there are a number of speeches and news reports floating on how service members and their families are solicited to provide inputs to the CRWG, but the only input source is the Online Inbox at www.defense.gov/dadt which requires a CAC to access it, which family members do not have.
- Owen Somers, Osan AB Korea

6/3/2010 12:58:59 PM
Obviously it doesn't matter what service members think. It only matters what Admiral Mullen thinks because he, like Obama, knows what is best for everyone. All I can say, is that you better let me out of my military service obligations/contract or else I am suing because the military will be infringing upon my liberties and violating my rights as a person who believe that his lifestyle is antithetical to American culture and our way of life.
- Aaron Greene, SHAPE

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