This morning, the four Service Chiefs and General James Cartwright — the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the consequences of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Significantly, three of the witnesses — and two of the Service Chiefs — endorsed the Pentagon Working Group’s recommendation to lift the ban. Two others had mixed reactions and only one, Gen. James Amos, the new commandant of the Marine Corps, said he would oppose repeal. All the Chiefs testified that they would be able to implement repeal effectively, if so ordered. The repeal amendment also certifies that the policy would not be lifted until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, certify that the action would not undermine military order. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified that he would not certify repeal until all of the risks were mitigated.
The Service Chiefs echoed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ concern that a court ruling would not provide the Armed Forces with sufficient time to implement a change and urged Congress to deal with the policy legislatively. They also endorsed the the work and process of the Working Group, dealing a significant rebuke to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who during yesterday’s hearings argued that the study should have conducted a referendum on the question of lifting the ban.
SHOULD IT BE REPEALED NOWCOULD IT BE REPEALED CONCERNSPAPP (Coast Guard)YES. Open service “will remove a significant barrier.” YES. “Require leadership and a conscientious dialogue.”Gays “may find themselves targets.”
ROUGHEAD(Navy)YES. “I assess the risk to readiness, effectiveness and cohesion of the Navy to be low.”YES. Concerns mitigated though leadership, communication, training, education, standards & conduct.“Repeal of the law will not fundamentally change who we are and what we do.”CARTWRIGHT(Vice Chairman JCOS)YES. Stresses “faith in our leadership” “benefit derived from being a force identified by honesty & inclusivity.”YES. Implementation “would involve manageable risk.”Repealing the existing law by an act of Congress “will enhance the Department’s ability to manage risk.” More difficult if done through courts.
SCHWARTZ (Air Force)MIXED. Would defer “certification and full implementation until 2012.”YES. Can implement “with modest risk.” “If the law changes,” will “pursue implementation of repeal thoroughly, professionally and with conviction.”Concerned with effect of repeal on “military effectiveness in Afghanistan.” “Legislative action on this issue is far more preferable” to courts.
CASEY (Army)MIXED. “We could implement repeal with moderate risk.” UPDATE: During the hearing, he added: “I would not recommend going forward at this time given all that the Army has on its plate.”YES. “Properly implemented, I do not envision that it would keep us from accomplishing our wold-wide missions.”Could “add another level of stress to an already stretched force; be more difficult in combat arms units; & be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests.”
AMOS(Marines)NO. “Strong potential for disruption at the small unit level.”YES. “Could we implement repeal at this time? The answer is yes. … We are Marines.”“Based on what I know about the very tough fight on the ground in Afghanistan” would not repeal.