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February 24, 2010

Experience of other militaries shows US needs more decisiveness, less drama for successful repeal of DADT

Militaries in other countries that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly achieved success by implementing an inclusive policy quickly and under decisive leadership, concludes a new study released this week by the Palm Center at UC-Santa Barbara.  (Click here for the NYT story.)

By contrast, the Army and Air Force chiefs of staff made the case in congressional testimony yesterday for further hand-wringing, foot-dragging, and drama

Other key conclusions of the Palm Center study are that open gays do not disrupt military effectiveness; that successful transitions did not involve creating separate facilities or distinct rules for gays or straights; and that the U.S. has a long tradition of turning to foreign armed forces as relevant sources of information about effective military policy.

“This study helps us understand exactly what works when major militaries end discrimination against their gay troops,” said the report's author, Nathaniel Frank. “Decisive action is a must, while slow-rolling implementation carries risks of muddling the process, a point the U.S. military itself is now beginning to express.”

This week, two top U.S. generals, Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Raymond Odierno, head of US forces in Iraq, added marked words of support to the government’s plans to scrap the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Gen. Petraeus supported further study, but noted that the change in Britain, Israel, the CIA, and the FBI was “uneventful.”  Asked if he believed soldiers on the ground cared if their peers were gay, he replied, "I'm not sure that they do," and suggested that service members are more concerned with the question of "how's this guy's shooting" than with who is gay or lesbian.  He also cited the evolution of the position of Gen. Colin Powell, who has reversed his opposition to openly gay service since 1993.

Gen. Odierno said, “My opinion is everyone should be allowed to serve, as long as we're still able to fight our wars and we're able to have forces that are capable of doing whatever we're asked to do.” He also supported the study process announced by the Pentagon earlier this month.

-SS

February 24, 2010 | Permalink

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