Friday, December 3, 2010

Army, Marine chiefs cast doubt on gay service

George Casey Jr., Gary Roughead, James Amos, Norton Schwartz, Robert Pap Jr., AP – From left, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr., Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Joint …
WASHINGTON – The top uniformed Army and Marines generals told a Senate panel Friday that letting gays serve openly in the military during wartime would be divisive and difficult, opposition that could undercut President Barack Obama's push to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" ban.
The generals' doubts about the White House effort gave political ammunition to Arizona Sen. John McCain and other Senate Republicans trying to block Democratic efforts to overturn the 1993 law prohibiting gays in the military from acknowledging their sexual orientation.
"I would not recommend going forward at this time, given everything that the Army has on its plate," Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The generals' testimony came one day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the military's top uniformed officer who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pressed for Congress to repeal the ban, arguing that wartime is the ideal time for such a step. Gates and Mullen also said lawmakers should act before the courts do.
Democrats have promised a vote this month to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, but its chances of passing this year were considered slim and may have been wounded further by the generals' skepticism.
Both Casey and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos acknowledged that openly gay service was probably inevitable and they played down suggestions that recruiting and retention would suffer dramatically if it was allowed.
But, they warned that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" would be tougher than a recent Pentagon study suggests and advised that repeal shouldn't happen so long as troops continue to fight in Afghanistan.
"My suspicions are that the law will be repealed," Amos said. "And all I'm asking is the opportunity to do that at a time and choosing when my Marines are not singularly tightly focused on what they're doing in a very deadly environment."
Amos, whose military branch has expressed the most discomfort with the change, said that "assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat."
Their opposition was backed by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, who suggested putting off changing the policy until 2012.
McCain said the testimony by the service chiefs should be given special consideration. He said he wanted to hear from other uniformed officials, including senior enlisted personnel and combatant commanders, and that the Pentagon study backing repeal shouldn't be the final word.
"It's a little bit like studying the Bible," McCain said. "You can draw most any conclusion from what part of it you examine."
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead was the only Pentagon service chief to advocate for repeal.
Roughead said it was likely that some highly trained combat sailors, including Navy SEALs, might refuse to re-enlist in protest of the personnel change. But, he said, he did not think any long-term damage would occur if certain steps were taken, such as increased training.
Obama has called on Congress to overturn the ban on openly gay service. Gates and Mullen agreed and ordered a 10-month study looking at the attitudes of service members toward gay troops.
Released earlier this week, the study found that a minority of troops — about 30 percent — predicted potential problems if "don't ask, don't tell" were repealed.
But most of the troops with concerns were serving in combat roles. Nearly 60 percent of troops in the Marine Corps and in Army combat units, such as infantry and special operations, said they thought allowing gays to be open about their sexual orientation would hurt their units' ability to fight on the battlefield.
"I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back, on the negative perceptions held by our Marines who are most engaged in the hard work of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan," Amos said.
Compared to Amos, the Army's Casey was somewhat more optimistic that repeal could happen without causing major turmoil among his troops. Casey said the policy shift, if implemented properly, wouldn't keep the Army from doing its job, and he predicted repeal would pose only a moderate risk to his force.
But, he added, changing the law now would "add another level of stress to any already stretched force" and be more difficult on the Army, particularly its combat units, than the recent Pentagon study suggests.
Gates and Mullen have said they believe resistance can be addressed through training and education. They also cite experience with gay troops as a mitigating factor. According to the study, 84 percent of Marines in combat roles who find they're working with a gay comrade said they did not see any negative impact on unit morale or cohesion.
"In terms of actual disruption experienced, as opposed to predicted disruption, the distinction between combat arms communities and the force as a whole is negligible," said Marine Gen. James Cartwright, the No. 2 officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
McCain has dismissed the military study as flawed because it did not ask troops whether they thought the law should be repealed in the first place, focusing instead on the impact repeal might have. McCain also contends that Pentagon leadership was glossing over serious objections expressed by troops in Marine and Army combat roles at a time of two wars.
Cartwright countered in his testimony that implementing change at a time of war might actually be preferable because troops are focused on their mission.
"The challenges associated with making a change of any kind that seem enormous during periods of inactivity become less distracting when you are defending your nation and comrades," he said.
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Associated Press writer Anne Gearan contributed to this report.

11 comments:

JustinO'Shea said...

This is NOT going to pass. . . .not for a while yet. . . "we are not ready" is the reason. . . .Merry Christmas.

J said...

Fuck Casey to death.

J said...

On second thought, to hell with all of the joint chiefs except for the admirals.

Gary Kelly said...

I agree. Timing is everything.

A lotta peeps reckon the greatest invention was the wheel. I reckon it was the axle.

Coop said...

Sen. Brown is in favor of the repeal. What a surprise!

I don't follow politics every day. It makes me nauseous. I DO bother to read it on the Dunes every once in awhile ;-)
WE may lose for now. The Repubs are pretty arrogant (that's why I got nauseous) teehee. Then again, I never thought of Speekah Pelosi as a nice lady :p
I think the Republicans will learn that the "American people" don't really want all things GOP.
Some say that the REAL Repubs are reluctant to challenge Gay rights. And blame those who had one too many tetleys and got wicked drunk. The GOP is scared of them.

Coops is waiting for the victory celebrations and gloating to die down.

JCinmeforever said...

Oh my Gosh! I'm weary of this subject in politics! Just repeal it already and see what happens. The PHOBES out there are so afraid that something more will tread on their wonderful little life by excluding and repressing others under a cloak of 'just shut up and I won't fire you' from the Military! Crap! Just do it! What the Hey did we elect you numb skulls for anyway! Crap, crap, CRAP! (can you tell I'm passionate about my politics!?)

Wheew! ...remember to have heart for others my fellow dunezys!

JCinmeforever said...

...another thought. I heard an article from my favorite pundit, 'Rachel Maddow', saying that during a time in war history past that African American's were segregated from serving in the Armed Forces with other ethnic backgrounds. Congress held the same types of hearings and eventually voted not to desegregate. The President at the time ignored the Congressional decision and 'desegregated' by Executive Order. Over time, all changed. The honor of Service men and women moved on.

So, President Obama needs to stop taking the CRAP from Congress and the Chiefs, butt-heads like McCain and sign this off by Executive Order! Political kudos or not! :)

Coop said...

JC,
Don't worry about the rant ;-)

We are exact opposites on this. LOL
2000 was my first election. I cast my absentee ballot in college, watched the results come in the student gathering place and waited for any news of the recount with baited breath.

It seems like the Republican and Democrat parties are battling for control of the country... and they have voters who are slaves to them.

I sometimes wonder if "The Leadership" are more concerned with their own power than anything else. And legislators must not vote against their leaders.

JustinO'Shea said...

Shuuu-aaaah looks like it, don't it. ;-) Dont there elected people has thinking of their own, a conscience of their own. . . .?

You think they ever hesitate to take their salary for all the work left undone?

JO'S

JCinmeforever said...

Thank you Coop! That's what I like about this blog...we can have a 'vent', a 'rant', an 'encouragement', a 'sordid quip' an 'it only gets better' way of sharing our thoughts...thanks to the 'Dunes' and all who participate.

We may be opposites on various issues, but holding respect for that opposite view even though you or I may not share in it, I believe is a higher road.

After all the political argument on the DADT issue, I can't believe that some people and one or two Senators can block, delay and impose upon many their point of view. Politicians are elected to be that one representative for a group of people. No one can tell me that John McCain and Mitch McConnell's entire district of representation feels that DADT should stay as it is. It's repressive, and not equitable. My opinion of course.

I find that at my employment, it's about my performance, working well with others, adhering to Company goals, etc. Not my Sexuality, gender or Faith. So, why does it matter in the Military Services? It shouldn't.

Smiles, JCinmeforever

JCinmeforever said...

...BTW Justin, ...not only the work left undone, but the great medical insurance that we can't have the opportunity to buy!, voting themselves a FAT raise in salary. Oh, and lets not forget all that time off! Sheesh...

LOL ....JCinmeforever