Official Results of Pentagon Study: Gay Troops Could Serve Openly Without Hurting Combat Readiness

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Thinking ... thinking ...Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The official release of the Pentagon's study on "don't ask, don't tell" just now confirmed what was originally leaked: that gay troops could serve openly without hurting the military's ability to fight, and that 70 percent of U.S. troops surveyed said that reversing the ban on their service would have a positive effect. When it comes to troops who have worked directly with a fellow service member they knew to be openly gay, fully 92 percent say that their unit's ability to work together was either "very good, good, or neither good nor poor."

Just now, Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a speech regarding the results of the study. "I believe that we have learned the attitudes, obstacles, and concerns that need to be addressed should the law be changed," he said. "The majority of concerns often raised in association with repeal … could be governed by existing laws and regulations. Existing policies can and should be applied equally to homosexuals as well as heterosexuals."

Gates urged caution and patience above all else. "I am determined to see that if the law is repealed, the changes are implemented in such a way as to minimize any negative impact," he said, emphasizing slowness and deliberation and pointing out that in the largely all-male combat units in the field, resistance to repeal is higher. That said, Gates recommended a repeal. "It can be done, and should be done, without posing a serious risk to military readiness," he said. "Now that we have completed this review, I strongly urge the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the president for signature by the end of this year." Both he and Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also voiced fears that recent court rulings on DADT would raise confusion and strife among the ranks. Mullen added that the chief factor in "mitigating any risk" would be "strength of leadership" down the entirety of the troop hierarchy. "My personal opinion is now my professional view: that this is a policy change that we can make."

Later this week, Gates, Mullen, and other military leaders will field questions about the policy before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sometime during the current lame-duck session of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to vote on a defense-spending bill that would include a DADT repeal. Expect John McCain, who said he didn't accept the results of the study when first reported a few weeks ago because it was a leak, to find a new rationale for ignoring them in T minus three, two, one ...

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Report [Defense.gov]