“I believe the U.S. armed forces are ready for the implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I conveyed that opinion yesterday to the President and to the secretary of defense, and today we certified this to Congress.
“My opinion is informed by close consultation with the service chiefs and the combatant commanders over the course of six months of thorough preparation and assessment, to include the training of a substantial majority of our troops.
“I am comfortable that we have used the findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group to mitigate areas of concern and that we have developed the policy and regulations necessary for implementation -- consistent with standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.
“Certification does not mark the end of our work. Ready though we are, we owe it to ourselves and to the nation we defend to continue to train the remainder of the joint force, to monitor our performance as we do so, and to adjust policy where and when needed.
“My confidence in our ability to accomplish this work rests primarily on the fact that our people are capable, well-led and thoroughly professional. I have never served with finer men and women. They will, I am certain, carry out repeal and continue to serve this country with the same high standards and dignity that have defined the U.S. military throughout our history.”