At today's Senate hearing, three of the four service chiefs expressed opposition to repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy on gays in the military. "My recommendation is that we should not implement repeal at this time," said Marine Corps commandant General James F. Amos (watch his opening statement here). "I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back on the Marines most engaged in the day-to-day work of operations in Afghanistan," said Amos. The Pentagon's survey showed that 67% of Marines in combat arms units--infantry, artillery, armor--believe repealing DADT would have a negative effect on their unit's performance.
"What the survey did not identify is the risk to the force should repeal be undertaken while the Corps is engaged in its 9th year of combat operations," Amos said. "Assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small-unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership, attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat."Amos later quoted a Marine lieutenant, who wrote in a letter: "My team's effectiveness is directly tied to its cohesiveness. Despite differences, we are so close that we anticipate each other's next move in garrison and in combat. Our ability to do our job is predicated on this kind of relationship. If you were to add any element of sexual competition, inter-unit sexuality, or hesitance in trust, it would unquestionably prevent those bonds from forming or immediately destroy them if introduced."
While the chief of the Navy, Admiral Gary Roughead, supports repeal, the chiefs of the Army and Air Force do not. Said Army Chief of Staff General George Casey: "Implementation of repeal of DADT in the near term will 1) add another level of stress to an already stretched force; 2) be more difficult in combat arms; and 3) be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests."
"I believe that the law should be repealed eventually," Casey said later under questioning from Senator John McCain. "I would not recommend going forward at this time."
"I agree with General Casey," said Air Force chief General Norton A. Schwartz. "I do not think it prudent to seek full implementation in the near-term."