February 2, 2010
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates prepared statement.
During the SOTU address, the president announced he will work with Congress this year to repeal the law known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He subsequently directed the DOD to begin the preparations necessary for a repeal of the current law and policy.
I fully support the president’s decision.
The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it.
We have received our orders from the Commander in Chief and we are moving out accordingly.
However, we can only take this process only so far, as the ultimate decision rests with you, the Congress.
Mentions that we’re involved in two wars, something we weren’t when the policy became law and that attitudes in the military and society in general toward homosexuality may have changed considerably in the intervening years. And that he has appointed a “high level working group to look at the issues associated with properly implementing a repeal of the DADT policy” and that the mandate of this working group is:
To thoroughly, objectively and methodically examine all aspects of this question and produce its finding and recommendations in the form of an impletation plan by the end of this calendar year.
The guiding principle of our efforts will be to minimize disruption and polarization within the ranks with special attention paid to those serving on the front lines.
I am confident this can be achieved.
What the group will do:
1-Determine the true thoughts of the troops and their families.
Wants the process to be clear of politics.
2-Thorough review of the changes that would be need to made to regulations and policies.
Benefits, base housing, fraternization and misconduct, separations, discharges and others.
Enter with no pre-conceived views – but a recognition that it will result in fundamental changes.
3-Potential impacts of a change in the law on military effectiveness, such as unit cohesion, recruiting and retention and other issues “crucial to the performance of the force”.
Develop ways to mitigate and manage any negative impacts.
Will use outside sources, including a study of the impact of allowing homosexuals to serve in the military.
DOD General Counsel, Jeh Johnson
General Carter Ham, Commander of US Army Europe
Review regulations used to enforce the law and within 45 days recommend changes that will enforce it in a fairer manner – aka no summary dismissals by angry exes.
I am determined that we in the department carry out this process professionally, thoroughly, dispassionately and in a manner that is reponsive to the direction of the president and to the needs of the Congress as you debate and consider this matter.
He closed by asking Congress to keep servicemembers and their families out of the politics and to “keep the impact it will have on them firmly in mind”.