Although President Obama spent a significant amount of his State of the Union speech last night talking about domestic issues, he also addressed several national security issues. The Joint Chiefs sat quietly when Obama talked about a timeline to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and committed to working with the military to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
And in the last year, hundreds of al Qaeda’s fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed — far more than in 2008. And in Afghanistan, we’re increasing our troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. [...]
This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.
However, as Joe. My. God. points out, the Joint Chiefs didn’t sit passively during the entire speech, as the Supreme Court justices are supposed to do, although they traditionally applaud “rarely.” The Joint Chiefs stood and applauded when the President talked about supporting veterans or pledging to secure nuclear materials:
And at April’s Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.
Watch a compilation:
A new study by UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that there are an “estimated 66,000 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are serving in the US military, accounting for approximately 2.2% of military personnel.” Additionally, repealing DADT “could attract an estimated 36,700 men and women to active duty service and 12,000 more individuals to the guard and reserve.” The Pentagon has reportedly been “stepping up internal discussions on how gay men and lesbians might be able to serve openly in the armed services,” in anticipation that Congress and the President will move forward on repeal.
Notably, Defense Secretary Robert Gates did stand and clap for Obama’s call to repeal DADT. (HT: AMERICAblog)