The co-chairs of the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Working Group reassured Congress today that they would consider the opinions of gay soldiers while conducting their review of the policy but admitted that they had yet to develop a system of consulting with gay members without inadvertently outing them. “We envision outreach through social media so that a wide variety of individuals both within the Department of Defense and without who will have views on this matter have an opportunity for their voice to be heard,” General Carter Ham, one of the working group’s co-chairs, said during testimony before the House’ Military Personnel Subcommittee. Ham and Jeh Johnson, the other chairman of the study group, refrained from offering their personal feelings about the policy and deferred all procedural questions to Congress.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) tried to discredit the study group for following the orders of the President and exploring ways to repeal the law. “I’m concerned the direction given to you by the Secretary of Defense will not result in your study group examining two fundamental questions — whether current law threatens or undermines readiness in any significant way and, two, whether appeal of current law would improve readiness in measurable ways,” Wilson asked, but was assured that the study group would in fact examine how a repeal would affect the military. At another point, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) dismissed the 13,000 DADT-related discharges and suggested that the policy was working. “You would agree that the primary purpose [of the military] is not to invoke social change, but to be ready for war, which we do frequently around here, as you know,” Fleming quipped without allowing the witnesses to respond.
The co-chairs said that they had consulted with their foreign counterparts about their efforts in integrating the services, but stressed that foreign experiences may not apply to the American military. “I think we have a good way ahead to look at foreign militaries. Having said that, we must understand that our military is our military and we have our uniquely American culture in the approach to how we do things, but I think this working group’s effort will be informed about it experience of others,” Ham said.