As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Official Military Publication Calls For End Of Don't Ask Don't Tell

An article in the Joint Forces Quarterly, an official military publication published for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argues powerfully and using available evidence for an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military.

WASHINGTON - An article in the Pentagon’s top scholarly journal calls in unambiguous terms for lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces, arguing that the military is essentially forcing thousands of gay men and women to lead dishonest lives in an organization that emphasizes integrity as a fundamental tenet.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of Pentagon leaders, but their appearance in a publication billed as the Joint Chiefs’ “flagship’’ security studies journal signals that the top brass now welcomes a debate in the military over repealing the 1993 law that requires gays to hide their sexual orientation, according to several longtime observers of the charged debate over gays in the military.

While decisions on which articles to publish are made by the journal’s editorial board, located at the defense university, a senior military official said yesterday that the office of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman who is the nation’s top military officer, reviewed the article before it was published.

“After a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly,’’ writes Colonel Om Prakash, who is now working in the office of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. “Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.’’

Via Adam Bink at Open Left, here's the entire article. The author takes a very deliberate approach, marshaling all of the arguments before and against repeal and coming to an unequivocal conclusion. He says that allowing gay members to serve while hiding their true identity compromises their personal integrity to an unacceptable degree. He says this ends up hurting unit cohesion more than it helps, as commanders know everything about their troops except one hidden fact. He cites the tragedy of 12,500 willing servicemembers no longer serving, likely a low number "since it cannot capture the number of individuals who do not reenlist or who choose to separate because of the intense personal betrayal they felt continuing to serve under the auspices of DADT."

Importantly, Col. Prakash applies empirical data from other NATO and allied countries who have allowed gay members of their militaries and sees absolutely no basis to the claim of a loss of unit cohesion:

Prior to lifting their bans, in Canada 62 percent of servicemen stated that they would refuse to share showers with a gay soldier, and in the United Kingdom, two-thirds of males stated that they would not willingly serve in the military if gays were allowed. In both cases, after lifting their bans, the result was “no-effect.” In a survey of over 100 experts from Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom, it was found that all agreed the decision to lift the ban on homosexuals had no impact on military performance, readiness, cohesion, or ability to recruit or retain, nor did it increase the HIV rate among troops.

This finding seems to be backed by the 2006 Zogby poll, which found that 45 percent of current Servicemembers already suspect they are serving with a homosexual in their unit, and of those, 23 percent are certain they are serving with a homosexual. These numbers indicate there is already a growing tacit acceptance among the ranks.

This was written by a member of the military, for members of the military, and his study leads to the inescapable conclusion that Don't Ask Don't Tell is a costly failure that must be repealed. Furthermore most Americans favor repeal. There is absolutely no excuse for delay on this subject from either Congress or the Obama Administration.

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