Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has issued an order to speed up the training and processes that will lead to the actual repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy banning openly gay and lesbian service members. Stars and Stripes, the military’s newspaper, moments ago reported “Gates has instructed the Defense Department to accelerate a plan to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay military personnel and start rolling out its training within a “very few weeks.”
“We’re trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible,” Gates said, adding he has instructed Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley to accelerate his efforts. “My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people. And we will do that as expeditiously as we can.”
The Washington Blade reported earlier today, “Senior Defense Department officials are already working toward implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, according to the Pentagon.
“This is high on [Defense Secretary Robert Gates'] agenda, and his senior staff is focused on it this week,” said Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokesperson, via e-mail to the Blade.”
“Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal shouldn’t be a long process because the Pentagon already established a policy to allow gays to serve openly in the military when a California federal court in October issued an injunction that temporarily enjoined enforcement of the law.
“Although they haven’t acknowledged this in public, the replacement regulations have already been written, and so the Pentagon could easily repeal the ban today if there was the political will,” Belkin said.
“Belkin said he suspects opposition to repeal from some military service chiefs — Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz — could slow the process for certification. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead has said he supports repeal.
“Casey in particular is leaving soon and doesn’t want to be known as the Army chief of staff who let gays in on his watch,” Belkin said. “The foot-dragging is not about some sincere or legitimate sense that the troops need to be trained on how to deal with gays; it’s because they don’t want to be around when the policy happens.”
On an interesting tangent, Senator John McCain, the chief GOP opponent to repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” has flip-flopped yet again. TPM reports McCain has “softened his tone and now says he’ll do anything he can to help repeal go smoothly.”
“I think I have to do everything I can to make sure that the [impact on the] morale, retention, recruitment and battle effectiveness of the military is minimized as much as possible.”
And they say the season of miracles is over.
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