Yesterday, ret. Gen. John J. Sheehan, the former Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) could harm the competency of the U.S. military. To back up his claim, he argued that Netherlands’ allowance of gay men and women to serve openly played a role in the devastating Srebrenica genocide in 1995. From his exchange with committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI):
SHEEHAN: The case in point that I’m referring to was when the Dutch were required to defend Sbrenecia against the Serbs, the battalion was understrength, poorly led. And the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone polls, marched the Muslims off and executed them. That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II.
LEVIN: And did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?
SHEEHAN: It was a combination –
LEVIN: Did they tell you that?
Dutch officials, however, are forcefully rejecting Sheehan’s outrageous claim. “It is astonishing that a man of his stature can utter such complete nonsense,” said the Dutch defense ministry spokesman, pointing out that international investigations of the Srebrenica massacre found no evidence “that the sexual orientation of soldiers played a role.” The Dutch ambassador to the United States said she “couldn’t disagree more” with Sheehan’s statement, and Dutch caretaker Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop called the claim “‘damaging’ and not worthy of a soldier. ‘I don’t want to waste any more words on it,’ he said.” Gen. Henk van den Breemen, Dutch Chief of Staff at the time of the Srebrenica genocide, added that Sheehan was spouting “total nonsense.”