Monday, September 10, 2012

Study Shows DADT Repeal Has No Effect on Military Readiness

(Click to enlarge.)
You remember all the predictions of doom and gloom tossed about by old guard military brass about what would happen if President Obama repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allowed gays and lesbians to serve their country openly? They went something like this:

“Repeal… would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the All-Volunteer Force.”
— March 2009 statement signed by
   1,167 retired admirals and generals
 “The flag and general officers for the military, 1,167 to date, 51 of them former four-stars, said that this law, if repealed, could indeed break the All-Volunteer Force. They chose that word very carefully. They have a lot of military experience… and they know what they’re talking about.”
—Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness, May 2010
Guess what? According to a study released by The Palm Center, an independent think tank, they were dead wrong. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Aaron Belkin, the founding director of the Palm Center and lead author of the study said, "For almost twenty years, experts predicted that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would harm the military. Now the evidence is in, and the conclusion is clear: repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' did not harm the military, and if anything made it easier for the Pentagon to pursue its mission."

The findings of the year-long study show:
1. The repeal of  DADT has had no overall negative impact  on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.
2. A comparison of 2011 pre-repeal and 2012 post-repeal survey data shows that service members reported the same level of military readiness after DADT repeal as before it.
3. Even in those units that included openly LGB service members, and that consequently should have been the most likely to experience a drop in cohesion as a result of repeal, cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place. In fact, greater openness and honesty  resulting from repeal seem to  have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance.
4. Recruitment was unaffected by the repeal of DADT. In an era when enlistment standards are tightening, service-wide recruitment has remained robust.
5. Retention was unaffected by the repeal of DADT. There was no mass exodus of military members as a result of repeal, and there were only two verifiable resignations linked to the policy  change, both military chaplains. Service members were  as likely to say that they plan to re-enlist after DADT repeal as was the case pre-repeal.
6. DADT repeal has not been responsible for any new wave of violence or physical abuse among service members. The policy change appears to have enabled some LGB service members to resolve disputes around harassment and bias in ways that were not possible prior to repeal.
7. Service-wide data indicate that overall, force morale did not decrease as a result of the new policy, although repeal produced a decline in individual morale for some service members who personally opposed the policy change and boosted individual morale for others.

8. There was no wave of mass disclosures of sexual orientation after repeal, and a minority of heterosexual service members reported in an independent survey that, after repeal, someone in their unit disclosed being LGB or that an LGB service member joined their unit.
9. Some military members have complained of downsides that followed from the policy change, but others identified upsides, and in no case did negative consequences outweigh benefits. In balance, DADT repeal  has enhanced the military’s ability to pursue its mission.
10. The findings of this study are consistent with the reported assessments of repeal by military leadership including President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon 5 Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Marine Corps Commandant James Amos.
You can see the full study results here. The only possible comment I could add to these findings is, "We told you so."

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