Friday, January 7, 2011

Gates Orders Armed Forces to Accelerate DADT Repeal

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Remember back in November when a federal court judge ruled that DADT was unconstitutional and ordered an immediate cessation to all discharges worldwide? For about a week it was totally legal to be out and proud in the U.S. armed forces and the world did not end. When the ruling was put on hold pending appeal by the government, some said the lawsuit filed by Log Cabin Republicans to overturn DADT was a wasted effort, but it accomplished something very substantial: It put the Department of Defense on notice that, one way or another, repeal was inevitable.

During that brief week of open service, Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided he did not want to get caught with his pants down with a bunch of openly gay soldiers running around. He ordered the DoD got right to work on a transitional plan for when repeal would finally happen. As a result, the Pentagon is way ahead of its anticipated time table for implementing full repeal. The "plan" consists primarily of some sort of diversity and tolerance training for the 2.2 million service members currently serving. Most likely the DoD will also use this time to brief service members on the specific changes that may effect them on a daily basis and clear up any misconceptions that may exist.

Most of us who have ever worked for a large corporation have been through these kinds of "training" exercises about workplace diversity. It's really no big deal. The main concern is logistics and needing time to train the 2.2 million service men and women scattered all over the world in a variety of situations ranging from office cubicles to battlefield operations.

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports that Secretary Gates held a news conference Thursday, where he said that implementing full repeal could happen within a "very few weeks".
Gates in a Pentagon press conference revealed a three-step plan: finalize changes in related regulations and policies, and get clearer definitions on benefits; prepare training materials for chaplains, lawyers, commanders and troops; and then begin to train service members worldwide.

“We’re trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible,” Gates said, adding he has instructed Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley to accelerate his efforts. “My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people. And we will do that as expeditiously as we can.”

In the previous two months, the Pentagon’s working group studying policy repeal and the joint chiefs recommended training to prepare troops for serving alongside openly gay servicemembers. Advocates for repeal have insisted no such training is required, and have warned the Pentagon against slow-rolling final certification to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Still, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advised gay servicemembers to exercise just a bit more patience.

“Now is not the time to come out,” Mullen said. “We certainly are focused on this and we won’t dawdle.”
The Log Cabin Republicans said earlier this week that they have no intention of dropping their lawsuit until full repeal is implemented and the discharges stop. In light of what happened in November, could this be what's motivating Gates to step on the gas?
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