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Thursday, December 2. 2010
Most of the arguments are weak from proponents and opponents of the Pentagon study on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Defense Secretary Gates argues that if repeal is not now then the intrusions by the courts into military discipline would be more disruptive. However, he fails to mention the failure of this administration’s Justice Department to vigorously defend DADT, the Congressionally-passed law, and that activist courts will continue to undermine many aspects of the Pentagon leadership’s supposedly well-laid plans.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen argues that repeal is both the American thing to do and that better leadership within the military will make it work. Simply, the military’s essential warrior culture is different than for civilian or corporate or non-military federal employees. Yes, according to the Pentagon’s survey, there is less resistance among non-combat troops, but they are the tail, and should not, must not wag the dog. It’s the teeth that count for the military’s effectiveness. Further, it’s hard to resist recalling the Pentagon’s mistaken assumptions and severe errors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mullen, also, suggests that the greater discipline within combat units will offset the greater, majority, resistance to repeal.
Mullens defends his attitude toward the combat troops’ resistance by saying he has led troops and cares about them deeply. No doubt he cares, but he has never been a “grunt” nor led ground combat units. Mullens’ disregard of the impact on retention of today’s warriors and recruitment of tomorrow’s is simply disgraceful, even if the actual impact is lower than the troops themselves say, and will not be offset, under any scenario, by liberals, libertarians or gays enlisting or serving in combat units. There is also the claim that the relative youth of combat troops makes their views less worthy of mature judgment. Guess what Mullens, combat troops are necessarily younger. According to the data file sent to me by the Defense Manpower Data Center, through January 31, 2010, of the 250-thousand active and reserve Marines deployed to Iraq, 66% of the active duty and 57% of the reservists were age 24 or under. They were mature enough to judge whether to enlist to risk their lives.
Opponents of repeal make some other weak arguments.
The focus of the Pentagon survey is criticized for not asking “should” repeal occur, and the methodology for relying upon a less than 30% voluntary response. The Pentagon is correct to argue that “should” is properly a Congressional issue and the survey provides useful info on the “how” and “impacts.” There are some weaknesses in the survey report, as in any, but neither crippling nor ignoring most of the impacts. The response, the Pentagon says, has been adjusted for representativeness. There’s no reason to doubt that, except the adjustments are not provided to make that conclusive. Further, analyses of voluntary responses in polling show that those with the strongest views have higher response rates, so – pro and con – there’s again little reason to believe that those with the strongest views were not represented. But, it is unknown whether the responses from combat troops were more than from non-combat, before the adjustments.
Another criticism of the Pentagon report and the media reporting of it is that there are actually relatively few who see the problems or impacts as positive. The bulk of responses to many questions are in the category of positive-and-negative, which the report and media reports group with the positive. The report says that the analysis of cross-tabs, reactions to other questions, justifies these in-the-middle repliers being grouped with the positive. However, that analysis detail is not included in the report, and the report does not allocate to positive or negative based on such an analysis. There’s important distinctions and weightings that deserve more depth and understanding. Perhaps the report authors’ judgment is correct, but that remains to be seen. Opponents should be demanding the report’s detail data-analysis. Aside from this, an important refinement of the already published data, the critics of the report’s methodology and conclusions are on weak ground.
The move to repeal DADT right now is criticized as a political move by the President’s Democratic Party, before their Congressional numbers shrink in January. That is so, and that is what Congress is, political. Opponents of immediate repeal can and will use their means to block it being forced through now, or can reverse a repeal in January.
In short, there are too many serious issues to be better understood by and detailed to the Congress, and for all Americans, than in the report or from its supporters statements so far. A few days to digest the report and a few days of Congressional hearings are grossly inadequate.
Tomorrow we hear from the service chiefs, a little closer to operational realities, who as the New York Times reports "All have expressed reluctance about repeal." After them, there are more to hear from. Congress adjourns next week, and there simply isn't enough time for a sufficiently informed and prudently considered vote.
P.S.: Paul Mirengoff at Powerline does an excellent job of Separating Facts From Spin in the Pentagon's DADT Report. Among other things, one of the report's two chief authors never served in the military and is an active liberal and Obama supporter. Opinions abound despite empirical data to the contrary.
Gays In Israel’s Military
The rump Senate may tonight try to force a vote on repeal of DADT. One of the arguments raised for the US Congress repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the experience of Israel’s military in allowing those openly gay to serve. Israel’s Defens
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The Pentagon study may be kind of flimsy. We do have the experience, though, of the four armed forces in the world most like ours to help us decide if there are likely to be problems.
Canada, the UK, Australia and Israel are all nations with open acceptance of servicemembers who are gay. Israel, at least, also has elements in its society who are distinctly anti-homosexual. All four nations are noted for highly effective ground combat forces: sharp teeth indeed. I don't know the history of implementing open service in each country, but I do know that none of their military leaders consider the presence of members who are homosexual to be a problem.
Even the discussion about American forces continues to focus on whether straight soldiers will react badly to knowing about soldiers who are homosexual. That's really enough there to tell you that a) being homosexual neither improves nor degrades a servicemember's ability to perform duties and b) excluding homosexual candidates and discharging homosexual servicemembers are being done to accommodate soldiers who may be afraid of them.
Many straight servicemembers would probably be just as happy if there weren't any homosexual members of their units. My experience with them was that, in general, they simply didn't care. Some did, of course. There are probably as many who actively desire, on principle, to welcome servicemembers who are homosexual as there are who are dig-in-the-heels opposed.
Adm Mullen is right. It is the American thing -- the liberty thing -- to acknowledge our servicemembers who are homosexual and leave them alone. There is no need for special privileges for gay members. Military discipline and standards should remain what they are. But if two men or two women happen to share a room and share more than that -- well, yeah, leave them alone.
If I could see where homosexuality was inherently harmful, I'd oppose accepting homosexual servicemembers. But I don't see it. I see the brass believing the combat troops are obsessed with "ick" factor, which could be projection. I think the brass are wrong, based on real-world experience.
Here's my thought: stop the discharges of homosexual servicemembers now. Review the legislation calmly in January under the new Congress. Then REPEAL THE WHOLE DAMN POLICY. It is bigoted and wrong.
Not that I have an opinion or anything.
Welcome back to the debate Geoff.
First to correct an error in what you wrote ("There are probably as many who actively desire, on principle, to welcome servicemembers who are homosexual as there are who are dig-in-the-heels opposed.") The report says otherwise, particularly in -- the most important to respect - the combat troops.
Second, I agree with "Here's my thought: stop the discharges of homosexual servicemembers now. Review the legislation calmly in January under the new Congress."
It remains to be seen whether, after more careful and detailed examination, the DADT policy is to be modified or junked entirely, in January or after, especially after our combat troops have returned from the stresses of the frontlines.
I recognize your prior service, and yours and mine as well as that of politicized generals and the Congress, rank as armchair, not currently frontline who face the real day-to-day and survival challenges.
Probably it will be ok and probably it won't seriously harm our military and if it does probably we will just ignore the problem and hopefully none of this will happen at the same time we face a serious crisis so what the hell.
To take such a step without knowing what will happen makes me worry about those who are in charge. I remember many years ago two B52 pilots argued about if a B52 could be rolled in flight without losing it's wings. It wasn't designed to do this maneuver but one pilot had so much confidence in the plane he thought it would be OK. So on his last flight before retirement he tried it. The wing came off and all 8 of the crew were killed in the crash. But what the hell. No we know it won't work, right!
Consider that liberals regard our military as a bunch of neanderthals that will obey any command without thinking and must be either ordered about or restrained from rape, pillage and murder.
In that environment (with which I do NOT agree)of course it will be a piece of cake to order DADT dropped, with absolutely no ill affects/effects.
My thoughts on go slow.
1. No new "protected" classes of soldiers. We already have two: women and Islamics (cf. the shameful handling of incompetent and traitorous Maj. Hassan). There's one standard of behavior, and it applies to everyone.
2. No new genders with different standards.
3. It's hard to imagine that the inclusion of out-and-proud soldiers won't affect the kind of small-unit bonding as seen in Junger's book "War" and film "Restrepo". Especially if they are a protected class. What effect, nobody can yet say, because other armies aren't like ours.
The question to ask: will the tip of our spear be sharper? If the answer is not yes, then let's stop wasting resources on this topic.
Let's see: Admiral Mullen is in the freaking NAVY. I think it's a reasonable assumption that he's never been in the bottom of a foxhole with the enemy shooting at him. And Navy officers, for the most part, don't get their hands dirty, or you know, actually fight.
In reality, Mullen is a perfect example of the kind of officer I frequently encountered in the military, and while working in the defense industry. Arrogant pieces of garbage who never hesitate to send soldiers to their deaths, and throw junior officer and enlisted men to the wolves to protect their sainted careers.
It's no secret that morale in the military, especially in the Middle East, is in serious decline due to rotten senior officers and the upper command structure.
A recent survey said that approximately 60 % of the actual war fighters are against this. Why in hell is that not good enough? Mullen said today that military personnel should kiss the diversity ring or go do something else. I expect increasing numbers will do exactly that.
Are we following the lead of the Netherlands, where the military does not work on nights and weekends, and are partially unionized? Nowhere in hell is there even a microgram of common sense in Washington.
I'm going to say that those who want to exclude homosexual servicemembers, or force them to conceal their natures, have the burden of proof that their position is necessary. The policy denies some otherwise eligible people the opportunity to serve our nation, and it also means that some men who may not want to, but are straight, have a burden to serve that homosexual men don't have. (I know the draft isn't active but it could be.)
The argument for excluding homosexual servicemembers must be made on any combination of three grounds:
1. Being homosexual interferes with performing military duties, as would blindness or diabetes.
2. Being homosexual is inherently harmful, like stealing from your comrades or other recognized crimes.
3. Being known to be homosexual makes you unacceptable to your unit members.
#1 is out. We have the anecdotes from 200 years of American military history showing that servicemembers who are homosexual have covered the gamut from heroic to ordinary to traitorous. We have the many incidents in which a senior officer or NCO, some with long histories in Combat Arms, have been discovered to be homosexual. NED.
#2. A promiscuous homosexual lifestyle has its own set of problems and so does a promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle. Consensual homosexual activity is now recognized as a private decision for adults and not a crime. So #2 seems to me to be out, unless you can meet a very high burden of proof.
That leaves #3. #3 is also the primary basis for most of the comments here that object to accepting homosexual servicemembers openly.
First, the empirical evidence doesn't prove this point. Note that 92% of servicemembers who know they've served with homosexual servicemembers agree that it doesn't matter. Even among Marines, 84% took that position. You actually seem to have less acceptance among people who don't realize they're serving with homosexual servicemembers than among those who do realize it.
Second, we have anecdotes (to be taken with a grain of salt) about units, including Combat Arms, where the members were sure someone was homosexual and the unit's members shielded the homosexual member from official action.
Third, while we know that some servicemembers will be angry about accepting homosexual comrades openly, we don't know that this will lead to anything except individual discomfort. When the armed forces integrated by race, a few people got out as soon as they could. I'm sorry, that works out to good riddance. If a member refuses to accept his or her comrades, the fault lies with the one who rejects the comrades. If Muslim servicemembers tried to exclude Christians or Jews, what would we think of that?
Guys, it's a non-issue. I served in the Canadian Forces both before and after gays were permitted to serve.
Before, I was convinced allowing homosexuals to serve would be bad, bad news for our military.
Afterwards, from serving with soldiers I knew to be gay, I realized that it just didn't matter all that much.
It is to all intents and purposes irrelevant because (from my own experience) the sexual orientation of soldiers seems to have no more or less effect on their efficiency whether they are gay or straight.
And I say this as someone who is quite uncomfortable with the whole idea of homosexuality.
Just to point out, that the following NATO Allies currently contributing to Afghanistan allow homosexual members to serve:
Seems that those countries see homosexuals as good enough folks to wear the uniform, serve their countries interests on the field of battle and maybe even to die there.
All of them in common cause with US forces in Afghanistan.
All certainly appreciated, and most operating under useless rules-of-nonengagement, which is why -- as in the formerly British zone of operations -- our USMC has had to go in there to do the job they wouldn't.
No empirical evidence that gays openly in their armed forces is the reason, as compared to the policy they (non)operate under, but that's also a bit of a chicken-or-egg as it's evident they don't operate under the warrior culture that our combat forces do.
One of the errors that former President Bush admits is that the US relied excessively upon the pledges of numbers and operations of NATO countries, neither of which did they deliver.
Further, our forces operate for extended periods around the globe on the most difficult missions. Others operate behind our shield, and avoidance of openly discussing their weaknesses.
"Force" them to conceal their gender? Less than 20% of current gays will expose their sexuality according to the study.
So if we have DADT, and the majority of gays now serving will follow that (less than 20% say they will reveal their status), WHY change the policy? For what purpose? For whom? That small percentage of a small percentage?
The only reason you want it repealed is to be seen as a "good person". It will not help the military. You want to be seen as "reasonable" and, yes, "liberal". This would help a small minority at the expense of many. Typical of the left.
A new policy does nothing to help anyone except promote homosexuality as acceptable in society. Nothing more.
I resent comments made by people who have never lived closely with a group of servicemen as in a navy ship. When I see opinions by navy officers who live in a different world and have choices, they don't seem qualified.
"[As] it's evident they don't operate under the warrior culture that our combat forces do."
Sorry, it's not evident at all.
The record of Canadian soldiers as "warriors" speaks for itself.
We may not have a large military but we have a damned good one.
And our privates aren't in the habit of handing over thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks either.
Hundreds of servicemembers are being discharged annually due to the homosexual exclusion policy. That is bad for the armed forces and unjust to the servicemembers. Unknown numbers of other people never serve our country because of this rule -- those who would be directly affected and those who agree that the rule is cruel.
I am a libertarian-conservative, retired with 20 years active duty and a few deployments. I was in support rather than Combat Arms but I doubt that Combat Arms is as different as some people are saying. I do want to be seen as "reasonable" and also "just". The exclusion policy is neither.
As for waiting until the brass think the troops are ready -- I first enlisted nearly 35 years ago and the brass still don't think the troops are ready. This is going to be pushed down the throats of the brass, as was integration by races and the wider use of women. That's the job of the civilian leadership sometimes. The brass of the 70's were very leery about ending the draft, too.
You identify a valid problem: close quarters and privacy in some situations. You solve valid problems; you don't use them as an excuse to continue cruelty.
Homosexuality in the military is nothing new. Homosexuals were in the US military for years and were discharged when their activity was made public. That was the law.
Our civilian leaders used homosexuality to change the standard of what is normal in the United States society. The same thing happened with women and with minorities. One retired admiral admitted that on promotion boards to captain (O-6) if an individual was black they were promoted regardless of qualifications. The same thing happened with women and other minorities during the Air Force Selective Early Retirement Boards. The board presidents were given verbal instructions to retain women and minorities while reducing highly qualified individuals just because they were white guys.
Homosexuals are given special treatment in the military. The homosexuals I worked with were not held to the same standards as other officers or enlisted members. Period.
Unfortunately most Americans don't see the behind the scenes activity in this polarizing issue but are only given bits and pieces of the story to bolster the side that homosexuality is OK and they are not shown the special attention that is given to homosexuals or given the examples of poor job performance by those individuals. They are not shown the outstanding performance reports of straight individuals passed over for promotion by homosexuals who were promoted only because of sexual bias.
There are always examples of homosexuals who performed in a superior manner, but the majority that I served with did not toe the line and were not top performers. So when the argument that homosexuals are not given the opportunity to serve their country is pushed to the forefront, I ask why were extremely highly qualified individuals released from the military rather than the poorly performing homosexuals? The answer is that our military is a social experiment rather than a fighting force.
My experience when on active duty, 1976-1996, was that the "special treatment" accorded to homosexual servicemembers was to discharge them. My experience with comrades who turned out to be homosexual was that they covered the gamut from excellent to poor.
As for being gay helping one get promoted -- if so, it was so far off the radar that I sure couldn't see it. I wondered sometimes about race and gender being used by boards.
Can you help me with this? The most hawkish, Christianist Republicans support Israel militarily. And they're the same people who are against DADT being repealed. Meanwhile, gays can serve openly in the Israeli military. So we're sending however many gazillion dollars to a country whose military (a) seems to be generally considered one of the better functioning in the known universe and (b) has gays/lesbians serving side-by-side with heterosexuals. Do I have that right?
Happy to help, as it may clarify some of the confusion.
First of all, the Israeli military is comprised of draftees. All must serve, except the most religious observants. Most Israelis resent this exclusion, and more very Orthodox are now serving, most in "seperate-but-equal" units. The most observant usually avoid the issue of gays in the military, to avoid more attention on their avoidance of serving.
Second, small Israel needs every able-bodied man and woman to serve.
Third, In addition, Israel's deployments -- unlike the US' -- usually do not involve long distances, close quarters, or other comparable conditions, that elevate the potential for sexual tension. Israeli popular culture is somewhat accepting of homosexuality, but most homosexuals in the IDF are discrete. Israel took over ten-years of careful implementation to reach today's more open acceptance of gays in its military.
Fourth, Those arguing for US repeal of DADT are determined to do it instantly or close to that. Sec.Def. Gates argues that Congressional repeal will head off more court interference in military discipline. That's a false argument. Activists in the gay community are sure to press in the courts, anyway, for more and more lax rules of conduct.
Fifth, the US military is not comprised of draftees, but volunteers. Those who volunteer are from the most motivated. Those at the firing line, already under severe stress, in majority reject repealing DADT. Putting them under more stress, and re-education programs, during this time is simply inane and insane.
Sixth, rejecting the views of the combat troops and punishing some for infractions, sure to occur, will not be offset by libertarians and liberals of combat caliber joining and training and undergoing the risks and prices.
Now, all that said, it well may be that at some future, less stressful and better planned time that more gays can, and actually will, serve openly. But, rushing into it is not the way to go.
BTW, I'm glad you didn't mention the western European forces who allow an openly gay military. Their repeated poor performance and internal discipline problems, coupled with a lack of pervasive warrior culture as in the US forces or strong political support for strenuous deployments or operations or even mounting a large or fully armed force, all are of little comfort to the US as it is, and hardly a model. The US has and meets far larger and dangerous responsibilities behind which the Europeans slack.