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03 December 2010

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William R. Cumming

Looks like public opposition to me but maybe just eye of the beholder.

How about having CDC or some other reliable org do a survey without personal identification of all gays and lesbians in the military.

Laura Wilson

It could also mean that they are playing to a different audience than the one they are supposed to be paying fealty to. I don't for a second believe that the military preparedness of this nation is going to suffer from increasing the pool of qualified, intelligent, and motivated men and women who wish to serve their country. Hopefully, they would have a better grip on the importance of civilian control of the military.

wcw

Here you have a point: even Beetle Smith kept his mouth shut in public.

Jackie

Col.,
Since your last post about this, I have been thinking hard and have decided to be really open to your position on this. In other words, I bow to your superior knowledge of the institution.

Joe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation_and_military_service#Countries_that_disallow_homosexuals_from_serving_in_the_military

How come this debate never focuses on the nations that have already addressed this issue and there experience instead we choose to be associated with this list of countries some with very questionable human rights records.

Patrick Lang

Laura Wilson

soldiers are not slaves as you would seem to wish in service of your agenda. The service chiefs in particular have an obligation to inform the Congress of their opinion as institutional heads of their services. the president is not a king nor is he an emperor n0 matter how much you want him to be when you want something done that you favor.

Go find a copy of the US Constitution and look at something besides the bill of rights for a change. In article one you will find that the Congress sets the rules for the armed forces not the president. The chiefs WERE obeying the need for civilian control of the real masters of the armed forces, the Congress. pl

Bobo

There may be a compromise here. General Schwartz's view to put this decision off till 2012 is a wise one considering the many ramifications. It will allow a more intense review providing more time for planning to make this change more palatable.

Unfortunately, this change is inevitable and more time is a benefit to all.

Patrick Lang

Bobo

Inevitable? This should be tested under combat conditions in mixed platoon and company units in which the gay soldiers and marines are open in their identity. those participating should be given immunity from separation or any penalty. pl

Laura Wilson

PL, I completely respect your service and life experience and opinions. I, however, have a 34 year-old son and a 30 year-old daughter and they live and work with gays on a daily basis. They socialize...and, because they socialize, we also have come to value and love these gay "kids" who are our and our kids friends. If the military IS so different, and it IS so hard to make this adjustment...is that a good thing for our country or our military readiness?

FYI, my husband served, my father, mother and grandfather served...I'm not completely clueless. I simply believe that if someone shoots straight, supports his/her comrades or speaks Arabic or Urdu or Pushtun, serves effectively as a military doctor or nurse or grunt or pilot and wants to serve in the military, then we as a country need to figure this out and do it.

These are tough issues...but the future is out there somewhere and we must find it together as Americans.

peg

Commandant of the Marine Corps James F. Amos (born November 12, 1946), US Army General George William Casey, Jr. (born July 22, 1948), and US Air Force Gen Norton A. Schwartz (born December 14, 1951) --- the older generation (i'm older than these men) needs to get with the new generation!

"When the UK took the step of allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the armed forces 10 years ago, public opinion was in favour but the armed forces themselves were not."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8493888.stm


"Gay Britons Serve in Military With Little Fuss, as Predicted Discord Does Not Occur"
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/world/europe/21britain.html

psc

I'm surprised at General Casey's reservations about allowing homosexuals to serve openly. General Casey's most famous quote, im my opinion, was just after the Ft. Hood massacre ... “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse ..."

Graywolf

pl wrote:
"This should be tested under combat conditions in mixed platoon and company units in which the gay soldiers and marines are open in their identity. those participating should be given immunity from separation or any penalty:

Would you really trust the results of such a demonstration project?
Given the weasel track record of certain generals and their civilian counterparts, that would be like waiting for Santa Claus to come down your chimney.

Ael

Women and gays serve everywhere in the Canadian Armed Forces (Including submarines, combat arms and in Afghanistan).

It seems to work out. I have not heard any drama about it in over a decade.

Green Zone Cafe

About 30 years ago, I was in transit to my new unit and while off duty at an intermediate stop along the way saw a young enlisted man who had been on the C-141 with me kissing another man in an alley. He saw me seeing him.

When we got to the unit, this man was assigned to my section, I think to his chagrin because of what he knew I had seen. A few weeks later, he came up to me with a couple of drinks in him at a unit function and said to me that sometime you can get the wrong impression about someone, they really weren't as they might appear, etc. I told him not to worry about things, life took many turns and as long as he did his job he would be in good stead with me. We did not discuss the specifics.

He turned out to be loyal and hardworking, and ended up making E-5 before his enlistment ended. He is now married with children.

I have always been a bit proud of myself that I didn't make my witness of what was probably an adolescent experiment a reason to screw up a young man;s life. Others would have done different.

In the same unit later on, in another section, a love letter from one electronics repair technician, E-5, to another, E-4, was discovered. They were both kicked out with either general or OTH discharges, can't remember which. A huge waste of training for a minor mistake in discretion. They were not at all flamingly "out" or disruptive.

If DATH is lifted, troops will continue to exercise discretion is most cases but will not longer be subject to the witch hunts of moralizing officers. Organizational cultures vary, and there will be (and has been) more tolerance in medical corps and administrative units and more discretion in combat arms units. This will continue to be the case.

Fred

Laura, if you think that is the case maybe you could explain the need of stop-loss orders and continued downward adjustments in recruiting restrictions since the invasion of Iraq; and finally - when will you be enlisting?

Joe, since when has American culture been like Peru, Norway, France, communist China (or nationalist Taiwan) or any of the countries listed in the wikipedia posting you reference? I doubt that openly gay recruits are going to enlist at any significant levels above the rates of those enlisting under the current policy. There is no evidence in the Pentagon survey to support that position either. There is certain to be quite a few members on active duty who will either retire or not re-enlist. That will have an immediate impact on effectiveness that any number of brand new recruits won't make up until they ar trained and have field experience.

William R. Cumming

Congressional oversight would be enhanced and understanding promoted if all witnesses were asked the following:

What is the official position of your organization on this issue? What is your personal view on this issue and why or why not does it differ from the official position?

Then of course the record would not just be more complete and understandable but more honest. Without doing this on a routine basis we deprive both Congress and interested persons the information needed to be informed as to the policy choices. And of course all repeat all Congressional committee witnesses should be placed under oath.

Patrick Lang

Graywolf

you are correct. The results might be better than nothing. I am grasping at straws with this.

pl

Norman Rogers

I have always felt that if good order and discipline are followed, there will be two options.

Do nothing or kick out those who cannot follow the rules. I'm for giving a commander the option to choose. If they can make the choice as to who is, and who is not, able to control themselves and submit to the greater good, which is, to put it simply, knowing how to conduct their personal affairs, what's the harm?

The peacetime Army of old is shattered, if you believe what people tell you.

More and more families choose to live off post. Here in Germany, I was told that the military who live in the region have the choice whether or not to live off post, and many of them do. I was shocked. Here, I thought they were required to live on the military reservations. Are the rules for those who live on the reservation different? If so, they should be applied to whomever chooses to live there.

But I don't know what those bases and reservations look like. They don't let people like me on them. What's the culture really like? Are they unable to accept blended or mixed families? Is there going to be a problem with socializing and attending functions? Those of us who are outside of this should defer to those who know what this life is like.

Sidney O. Smith III

I sometimes wonder what those with a CIB -- and, even more so, those with sustained combat conditions for a long period of time -- think about the homosexual subplot in Julius Epstein’s film, The Iron Cross. Inaccurate? Accurate? Likely? Unlikely? Seems to me that the sheer horror of war creates a unique environment that is prone to severe fragmentation on several different levels. And those who have seen the white elephant, so to speak, deserve greater input than others into this question concerning the repeal of the DADT. In other words, their insights should carry greater probative value.

I am a civilian. I don’t know the answer. Don’t have a clue, so I leave the decision to others. It’s whatever the experts conclude. But, generally speaking, I cannot help but think that a person instinctually would react different if his buddy got his head blown off, with brains, blood, and skull chips landing in one’s lap, rather that his loved one. I would not want to see my fiancee placed in harm’s way, and I would do what it would take to make sure she is ok. Her safety may take preference over the mission. In other words, odds increase that I could continue the mission if my buddy got killed rather than my fiancee. If you assume that homosexual romantic love is as great as heterosexual love, then ergo…

But again, I am not military, so it may be different. Military people may not think that way. I don’t know. Plus they have training.

You know, Shakespeare, in once scene, has Romeo turn into a killer and take revenge by killing Tybalt after Tybalt had murdered Romeo’s soldier buddy Mercutio.. But when his lady Juliet dies, he responds differently. Fragments, basically. I sometimes wonder if that is an extreme example of the difference between the spirit of brotherhood as distinct from romantic love. Irony of irony, this play is more about spiritual brotherhood than romantic love but few notice. Those guys back then believed that spiritual brotherhood was on a higher plane, in many ways, than romantic. (complete opposite of infantile Hollywood action adventure, drenched in infantile Freudian thinking but which informs our nation today).

But, again, I don't know the answer. I am not a military person but a contented civilian. Whatever our nation decides.

David Habakkuk

peg,

The fact that having gays serve openly in the British military with 'little fuss' and the 'predicted discord did not occur' does not settle the issue. The key question is whether the change impacts on combat effectiveness.

Among the WikiLeaks stories, I noted one entitled 'Harsh criticism for British military in US diplomatic cables', with both Afghans and Americans expressing frank contempt for the performance of the British in Helmand.

The Channel Four report included a British response:

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "UK forces did an excellent job in Sangin, an area which has always been and continues to be uniquely challenging, delivering progress by increasing security and taking the fight to the insurgency. That work is now being continued by the US Marines as part of a hugely increased Isaf presence across the whole of Helmand Province."

(See http://www.channel4.com/news/harsh-criticism-for-british-military-in-us-diplomatic-cables )

The first sentence is the kind of mumbo-jumbo which spokesmen for British institutions now routinely regurgitate, and almost invariably serves to obfuscate what is going on. From what BBC spokesmen say, for instance, you would not guess that the morale and professionalism of the organisation has disintegrated sharply over the past two decades – which is what is apparent when you talk to people who work there who are not afflicted by political correctness and are in a position to be candid.

Far be it from me to assume that the criticisms of the British military in the WikiLeaks report are justified – still less would I assume that if there has been a decline in combat efficiency, it has any relationship to having gays serve openly.

But before forming any conclusion, I would want to talk to officers and NCOs who I can be reasonably confident are not censoring their private thoughts and feelings, because they are all too aware of what the powers that be – and also journalists from institutions like today's BBC and the New York Times – think are acceptable opinions.

Neil Richardson

"Laura, if you think that is the case maybe you could explain the need of stop-loss orders and continued downward adjustments in recruiting restrictions since the invasion of Iraq..."

Fred:

A lot of civilians just underestimate the difficulty of transition required especially in wartime as you well point out. In addition as Col.Lang mentioned in passing, most of the respondents of the DOD survey have not experienced peacetime garrison duty. The operational tempo of the Army and the Marine Corps has stressed both institutions to a point where we have line officers asking whether we're losing core competency as a warfighting force (e.g., Gian Gentile who has openly raised this point as well as a number of anonymous commenters at various blogs).

Like almost all Americans across generations, I felt the desegregation of armed forces was necessary for moral, practical (manpower requirements of the Cold War), and social reasons. However, one should remember that the transition took a long time especially for the Army. Before my first tour in ROK, Gen. Hank Emerson had issued an order that "Racial bigotry will cease as of this moment." In addition he had repeated screenings of "Brian's Song" among line units of 2ID. And this was 25 years after Truman had signed EO 9981 not to mention two wars. IMHO I don't think the unit cohesion issue will matter that much in combat as I cannot imagine a tanker unwilling to do everything humanly possible to rescue another crewman just because he happens to be gay, but the key question is how will this affect readiness in peacetime.

I think a lot of the civilians and especially those in the academia tend to ignore (and almost wish it away) the fact that many of those who opt for combat arms (especially 11s in the Army) come from a social background vastly different from their own. And you're absolutely right about the young men who have paid a higher price than others of their generation who will vote with their feet once the enlistment period ends.

Whenever I hear academics and other civilians confidently predicting that the change wouldn't affect combat effectiveness, I keep remembering that Columbia faculty had voted to accept the demands of the SDS to kick the Army ROTC program off campus. We had to commute to Fordham along with NYU detachment because we were eyesores in a university where Ike once had been president (and Douglas MacArthur's only son had been here as well).

Russ Wagenfeld

Hi Pat,
NR wrote: "More and more families choose to live off post. Here in Germany, I was told that the military who live in the region have the choice whether or not to live off post, and many of them do. I was shocked."
Our 8 years in Germany ended in 1999, so this may be out of date. We were civilians but worked with and socialized with military personnel and their families. At that time, most preferred to live on base. Most were also reluctant to interact with Germans and their institutions (including German health system which was first rate). So perhaps things have changed.
Regarding surveys of military personnel regarding their attitude towards gays, I think that weighting the attitudes of those serving in the combat arms and/or with combat experience more heavily would be important to judging the potential effect on repeal on combat readiness.
Also, many have compared the question to ending racial segregation in the armed forces. We think that the introduction of women into a much broader range of assignments would provide data for a more meaningful comparison.
Regards,
Russ

Charles I

Joe asks about Canada, Laura speaks of current generations socialization. Pat often asks we consider things a they are.

The USA is a particular culture sometimes reported as one of the "most religious" societies on earth. The issue is pregnant with politics. I'm a Canadian liberal, all for gay rights, full speed ahead, It reportedly works here, or elsewhere, I've no first hand knowledge.

Yet civilian kids are still killing themselves over peer pressure. The US Armed Forces are an exceptional, existential, institution at a time of breakneck social, political, economic and technological change.

I don't find it unreasonable that slowly evolving human beings in different places may experience socialization differently, and that once debate is joined, my expectations can't be executed overnight in a context of which I know little.

Worse yet, my view may not carry the day, for reasons ultimately acceptable, tolerable or persuasive to me. Wow. I'd have actually changed my mind to a little extent!

Rome was,'t built, nor fell, in a day.

David Habakkuk, as a Canadian who believes, on the basis of basically no bad press and otherwise ignorance, that gays in the CAF have worked out, is there any data, scuttlebutt on the performance of the Canadians deployed to Kandahar?

Stanley Henning

If one thinks carefully about this issue the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is actually quite reasonable if reasonably implemented. In about 1974, when we were experiencing the Vietnam drawdown, I was faced with finding a Headquarters Company clerk. I had a room full of prospects, most of whom were aching to get out of the Army. I ultimately came upon one young man who wanted to give it a try, so I selected him. A while later, one of our officers came up to me and said the man I picked was apparently gay - my response was, he has been doing a good job in the Headquarters Company and I'm not concerned about his private life as long as it does not interfere with effective unit operations. I also thought to myself, he inherited this from birth but it is not debilitating and does not prevent him from contributing positively to the mission, but the military should not be obligated to take measures that, in effect, encourage open display of such private matters.

Tyler

Seeing what I've seen of females in the Army, and the military in general, I highly doubt the Canadian Armed Forces integrated females into combat arms without any issues, if that is the case.

There is no news but good news in the Army. Some of you civilians need to remember that.

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