House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) seemed taken aback this afternoon when the four chiefs of the armed forces testified that they had not run into any major problems in implementing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The question came at a full committee hearing examining the “Repeal of Law and Policies Governing Service of Openly Gay and Lesbian Service Members Files”:
- GEN. PETER CHIARELLI – VICE CHIEF OF ARMY: “I had a session with commanders last Friday, they have indicated no issues so far in Tier I and Tier II training as they get ready to kick off our Tier III training.”
- GEN. JAMES AMOS – CHIEF OF THE MARINE CORPS: “And I’m looking for specifically for issues coming out of the Tier II and Tier III training and to be honest with you, Chairman, we’ve not seen it…there hasn’t been the recalcitrant push back, there hasn’t been the anxiety over it from the forces in the field.”
- GEN. NORTON SCHWARTZ – CHIEF OF AIR FORCE: “We are mitigating the risk in the way we are approaching this and so I’m more comfortable than I was on the 22 of December, but we still have a ways to go and it requires the constant attention of all of us to bring this home.”
- ADM. GARY ROUGHEAD – CHIEF OF NAVY: “I’m very comfortable. I was very comfortable in making the recommendation last December and it’s consistent with what I continue to see in the Navy today.”
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McKeon — who has long opposed repeal — and has previously suggested that he would support legislation to slow it down, responded by softening his position and claiming that he only objected to the “process” not the substance of the repeal legislation. “I think one of the problems I had…was kind of the way it was presented to us and given to us,” he said. “And so my concern was more the procedure of how it was all laid out. But that’s past and now we’re moving forward.”
Back in November, McKeon described repeal as “disruptive” and “unwise.” “I don’t think the military should be used as a political football,” he said of the Democrats’ efforts to repeal the policy. Amos was also against the change, arguing that if gays were allowed to serve without hiding their sexual orientation, the Marines could be so distracted that they would die in the line of duty.