Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Report on Track, Mullen Says

MELBOURNE, Aus­tralia, Nov. 8, 2010 — The work­ing group look­ing at how the Defense Depart­ment should respond to a repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law is on track to deliv­er its report Dec. 1, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates are here for the Aus­tralia-Unit­ed States Min­is­te­r­i­al Con­sul­ta­tions, and the law that bans gay men and les­bians from serv­ing open­ly in the U.S. mil­i­tary was raised dur­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion they had with Aus­tralian and Amer­i­can reporters.

A U.S. dis­trict judge in Cal­i­for­nia ruled the law uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, but an appeals court stayed the judge’s deci­sion until the appeal process is fin­ished.

The chair­man expressed sur­prise at com­ments rais­ing ques­tions about repeal­ing the law by Gen. James F. Amos, the new com­man­dant of the Marine Corps, dur­ing an inter­view with the Los Ange­les Times, not­ing that he and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are rely­ing on the report of the work­ing group to inform their deci­sion.

Defense Depart­ment Gen­er­al Coun­sel Jeh C. John­son and Gen. Carter Ham, the com­man­der of U.S. Army Europe, are co-chairs of the group. Their dead­line to Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates is Dec. 1.

“I have great con­fi­dence that the review is track­ing and will come in on time,” Mullen said. “I’ve met with all the ser­vice chiefs sev­er­al times, and [they] under­stand the process, as well as the tim­ing of all this.”

Mullen said that while it is impor­tant that the ser­vice chiefs give their advice, they should do so pri­vate­ly.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Gates and Mullen are on record favor­ing a repeal of the law, which was enact­ed in 1994, but defense lead­ers want any change to take place in a delib­er­ate man­ner. Gates has said the ser­vices will need time to put process­es, train­ing and poli­cies in place if Con­gress repeals the law.

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

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