Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pentagon Announces DADT Rollout Plan, Short on Details, No Clear Timetable

Senior military officials unveiled their planned roll out for full repeal of DADT on Friday at a press conference. I watched the event online, via the Pentagons webcast. General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, outlined the plan for a staged roll out of a personnel training program and took questions from the press.

The two military leaders gave very few specifics on the content of the training and throughout the proceeding their attitude was "trust us, we know what we're doing", which never sits well with me.

The plan, as outlined by Cartwright and Stanley is very short on details and seems to be very much like any corporate training session about tolerance for diversity in the workplace, that most of us have had to sit through. Commanders will be provided with "tool kits" consisting of Power Point presentations and "vignettes". The training is expected to begin next week and continue for ninety days. In response to specific questions about potential personnel problems, the two gave no specifics on how discrimination complaints might be handled, Stanley said there are "Already behavior and conduct standards out there... the standards are still valid."

There will be no protected class status and nothing specifically protecting gays and lesbians in the DoD's personnel policy. The two kept saying throughout that they would follow all legal guidelines. When pressed about the fact that there are no legal federal protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, the standard response was that all military personnel will be treated with equal respect.

A few specifics that came out at the press conference are that there will be no change in benefits or housing policies. Due to DOMA, there will be no recognition of legally married gay and lesbian couples or those in domestic partnerships or civil unions, for the purposes of housing, transfers, insurance or other benefits typically afforded to straight married personnel.

A reporter pointed out that there had not been any dismissals under DADT in the last ninety days and asked if this meant that a moratorium is in effect. Stanley clarified that there will be no moratorium on dismissals pending final implementation of repeal.

When pressed by reporters, he admitted that DADT dismissals currently under review could still result in separation from the armed forces. Stanley said that the process is more specific now on a case by case basis. He added that he was not saying there won't be more discharges, but said "there's just an extra level of review. It takes more time." He said that discharges are still possible, but gave no details on what the circumstances might be.

The proposed time line calls for training to begin in February and to continue for about 90 days. At that time, the certification process can begin, when Gates and Mullen are expected to sign off on repeal once they are satisfied that there will be no adverse effects to military preparedness or morale. After that, the president will sign off, then there will be a 60 day waiting period until full repeal. In the best case scenario, we could see full repeal by the end of the summer, however Cartwright and Stanley would not commit to specifics.

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