Casey: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal OK, But Not Now

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2010 — Though he believes the law that bans gays from serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary even­tu­al­ly should be repealed, the Army’s senior offi­cer told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee today, repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law now would be a dis­trac­tion dur­ing wartime.
Law­mak­ers heard tes­ti­mo­ny from Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the oth­er ser­vice chiefs and the vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about their take on a report pro­duced by a Defense Depart­ment work­ing group that details how repeal of the law would affect the armed forces.

Casey told law­mak­ers that dur­ing wartime, imple­ment­ing a new pol­i­cy would be an extra bur­den on lead­er­ship.

“Imple­men­ta­tion of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would be a major cul­tur­al and pol­i­cy change in the mid­dle of a war,” he said. “It would be imple­ment­ed by a force and lead­ers that are already stretched by the cumu­la­tive effects of almost a decade of war.”

The gen­er­al said that imple­men­ta­tion of a repeal of the law pol­i­cy at this time would add anoth­er lev­el of stress to an already stretched force, would be more dif­fi­cult to imple­ment in com­bat-arms units than in oth­er units, and would “be more dif­fi­cult for the Army than the report sug­gests.”

How­ev­er, the gen­er­al also said that if the law is over­turned and the armed forces must com­ply, the Army could do so with only “mod­er­ate risk” to ser­vice effec­tive­ness.

“We have a dis­ci­plined force and sea­soned lead­ers, who, with appro­pri­ate guid­ance and direc­tion, can over­see the imple­men­ta­tion of repeal with mod­er­ate risk to our mil­i­tary effec­tive­ness in the short term, and mod­er­ate risk to our abil­i­ty to recruit and retain this all-vol­un­teer force over the long haul,” he said.

The gen­er­al also said that after read­ing the work­ing group’s report and the results of sur­veys the group con­duct­ed with ser­vice­mem­bers and their fam­i­lies, he no longer believes in the con­cepts that sup­port­ed ban­ning gays from serv­ing in the first place.

“As I read through the report, it seemed to me that the report called into ques­tion the basic pre­sump­tion that under­pins the law,” Casey said. “That is that the pres­ence of a gay or les­bian ser­vice­mem­ber cre­ates an unac­cept­able risk to good order and dis­ci­pline. I don’t believe that’s true. And from the sur­veys, it appears that a large num­ber of our ser­vice­mem­bers don’t believe that is true either. So even­tu­al­ly, I believe, it should be repealed.”

The gen­er­al added that while he believes the law should even­tu­al­ly be repealed, the ser­vices will need time to imple­ment the change in the force.

“At this time, I would not rec­om­mend going for­ward, giv­en every­thing the Army has on its plate,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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