Last year, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos became the face of the opposition to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, going so far as to argue that if Congress lifted the ban against open service and allowed gays to serve without hiding their sexual orientation, the Marines could be so distracted that they would die in the line of duty. But since President Obama signed repeal legislation on December 22, Amos has moderated his rhetoric and has even taken part in a video asking Marines to respect and accommodate the policy change.
Yesterday, AOL’s Andrea Stone reports that Amos is further distancing himself from his past criticisms, telling reporters that repeal has not created the kind of disruptions that he (and many Republicans) had predicted:
“I haven’t had any indication yet at all, not at all,” Gen. James Amos told reporters when asked if he expected the mass exodus of troops that Sen. John McCain and other critics predicted if the ban was lifted.
Amos was visiting troops in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when President Barack Obama signed the repeal in late December. He said he addressed some 12,000 Marines about the change and “everyone said, ‘Sir, we got it. We’re going to do this thing.‘”
Amos also said that the Marines have already started preparing the force for implementing repeal. The “training of military lawyers, counselors and chaplains began Feb. 7,” he said, noting that “the service’s three-star generals and their spouses underwent a training session recently in New Orleans.” He “expects all leaders down to company commanders and platoon sergeants to have been briefed by the middle of next month.”
Amos’s comments about the rather smooth process following repeal undermines the warnings of McCain and other Republicans, who cherry picked statistics from the Pentagon’s study of the policy to argue that hundreds of thousands would leave the force if the policy is lifted. McCain, for instance, urged against a “rush to repeal” and said that 12 percent of the military would leave the service if the policy were changed.
Cross-posted on Wonk Room.