Roughead Sees Little Impact from ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2010 A repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law would not damage naval readiness, effectiveness and cohesion, the Navy’s senior military officer told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
“With the exception of the moderate risk associated with projected retention and some Navy irregular warfare specialties, I assess the risk to readiness, effectiveness and cohesion to the Navy to be low,” Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said. “Based on my professional judgment, and informed by the inputs by our Navy, I recommend repeal.”
Roughead said he is satisfied with the results of a working group’s study of the impact on the Defense Department should the law that bans gays from serving openly in the military be repealed.
“I believe the appropriate policy issues have been researched, examined and necessary courses of action have been considered,” he told the committee. “The [survey] response has helped me to assess the potential impacts to effectiveness, readiness, unit cohesion and morale in our Navy.”
Roughead said 76 percent of sailors who responded to a working group survey sent to 400,000 active and reserve-component servicemembers think the impact of repealing the law would be neutral or positive.
“There’s a sizeable minority of the Navy, approximately 24 percent, who believe the impact of repeal will be negative,” he added.
Sailors expressed the greatest concern about social cohesion, privacy and sleeping and showering facilities aboard ships and submarines and in certain training environments, and increased stress on the force during periods of high-tempo operations, the admiral said.
“I believe these concerns can be effectively mitigated through engaged leadership, effective communications, training and education, and clear and concise standards of conduct,” he said. “While we will engage all sailors, regardless of their points of view, it is this minority upon which leaders must focus.”
Roughead said more than 7,500 Navy spouses responded to another working group survey, and 81 percent of them said they do not expect repeal of “Don’t Ask” to have a negative effect on family readiness.
“The assessment of the spouses is important because of their support to our sailors and their role in re-enlistment decisions that Navy families make,” he noted.
Roughead added that he believes repeal of the law should be through legislation, than through the courts. The Navy, he said, would be able to implement the change.
“Should the law be repealed, the United States Navy will continue to be the professional, global and effective, relevant force for the nation,” he said. “Repeal of the law will not fundamentally change who we are and what we do.
“The U.S. Navy can implement the necessary changes to policies and procedures,” he continued, “even in a time of war and increasing global commitments.”
The admiral said he is confident that the character, discipline and decency of Navy men and women would get the service though the adjustment if the law is repealed.
“Navy leaders will continue to set a positive tone, create an inclusive and respected work environment, and enforce our high standards of conduct throughout the Navy as we serve the nation,” he said.