Friday, April 8, 2011

Top Military Brass Stick to Their Guns on DADT Repeal

In an effort to derail the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which the president signed in December, the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee met for the second time on Thursday seeking answers from military officials about personnel training in advance of certification and again made false claims about the impact of open service on military preparedness.

The Advocate reports:
The hearing included testimony from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos, and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli.

Similar to an armed services subcommittee hearing last week on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” some DADT repeal detractors used the hearing in part to question the wisdom of the repeal bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in December. In opening remarks, committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon of California said that research on ending the policy lacked “in-depth analysis” and led to a “rush to judgment” by Congress, which passed the bill during the lame-duck session.

The four officials, some of whom expressed concern about the impact of repeal on military readiness in congressional hearings last year, reported no problems thus far with initial training, however — nor was there any indication that recruitment efforts were being harmed as a result.

“The U.S. Navy can successfully implement repeal of the law,” Roughead said in prepared remarks. “Repeal will not change who we are or what we do.”
General Amos, who at first opposed repeal, told the committee, “there hasn’t been the recalcitrant push-back, there’s not been the anxiety from the forces in the field. ...“Overall I am confident that Marine leaders at all levels will ensure compliance”

Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said in a statement Thursday, “Today’s hearing is yet another attempt by the committee’s new majority to defund, delay, and derail the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Unfortunately, however, it also represents more than that. It’s indicative of an ongoing and coordinated effort by opponents of repeal to undermine the integrity of this process and make repeal – already decided in a bi-partisan way by the Congress, the Pentagon, the President, and the American people – a political football for the 2012 election season. We commend the service chiefs for their efforts and testimony as we work together toward certification and repeal."

Military leaders testified in last week's session that 200,000 (10%) of troops have received training on the transition to open service. Implementation could begin by September, after it is certified by the president, the
Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed by a 60-day waiting period.

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