Asked about the moratorium by Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) during today’s appropriations hearing, Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey argued that a moratorium could complicate the Pentagon’s study:
I would recommend against it, it would complicate the whole process … implementing while we were studying it…This process is going to be difficult enough, anything that complicates it more I would be opposed to.
John M. McHugh, secretary of the Army, agreed. “Any number of current cases would be greatly complicated.” McHugh said his preference would be not to institute a moratorium, but promised to respect and adhere to a moratorium if it were to pass Congress.
Earlier this month, Levin said that he would support imposing a moratorium and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), the chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, predicted that Congress had enough votes to pass a limited moratorium on third-party discharges.
Congress could certainly pass a moratorium over the Army’s objections, but the best way for Congress to counteract the military’s feet-dragging is to include repeal language in the Defense Authorization bill. The President could also declare a “stop-loss” (the policy could not be enforced because nobody can leave the military) or institute a high threshold for enforcing the policy.