Gates Outlines ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal Process

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates yes­ter­day described the Pentagon’s three-step process for prepar­ing to allow gays to serve open­ly in the mil­i­tary ser­vices.
At a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gates updat­ed reporters on the department’s plan for imple­ment­ing repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which has been in effect since 1993 and remains in effect until the process is com­plete.

“Our goal here is to move as quick­ly, but as respon­si­bly, as pos­si­ble,” Gates said. “I see this as a three-step process. The first is to final­ize changes in reg­u­la­tions [and] poli­cies [and] get clear­er def­i­n­i­tion on ben­e­fits.”

The sec­ond phase is to pre­pare train­ing mate­ri­als for use by per­son­nel spe­cial­ists, chap­lains, com­man­ders and oth­er lead­ers, and those who are in dai­ly con­tact with ser­vice mem­bers, he said.

The third phase, the sec­re­tary explained, is the actu­al train­ing for ser­vice mem­bers.

“We’re try­ing to get the first two phas­es of that process done as quick­ly as pos­si­ble,” he said. “My hope is that it can be done with­in a mat­ter of a very few weeks, so that we can then move on to what is the real chal­lenge, which is pro­vid­ing train­ing to 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple.”

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed leg­is­la­tion in May that called for the pres­i­dent, defense sec­re­tary and Joint Chiefs chair­man to cer­ti­fy the imple­men­ta­tion plan before the repeal takes effect. On Nov. 30, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials released the report of a work­ing group that reviewed issues asso­ci­at­ed with a poten­tial repeal. And on Dec. 18, the Sen­ate vot­ed 65–31 for repeal, and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed the leg­is­la­tion into law Dec. 22.

Gates said Clif­ford L. Stan­ley, under­sec­re­tary of defense for per­son­nel and readi­ness, is lead­ing the effort.

“I have asked Under­sec­re­tary Stan­ley to accel­er­ate the first two phas­es of this process as much as he pos­si­bly can so that we can get on with the train­ing process,” the sec­re­tary said.

Mullen said the leg­is­la­tion spec­i­fies that the repeal will take effect only after he, Gates and Oba­ma cer­ti­fy that new poli­cies and imple­ment­ing reg­u­la­tions are con­sis­tent with stan­dards of mil­i­tary readi­ness, effec­tive­ness, unit cohe­sion and reten­tion.

“From my per­spec­tive,” the chair­man said, now is not the time to ‘come out,’ if you will,” not­ing that even after the required cer­ti­fi­ca­tion takes place, the present law will remain in effect for 60 more days. “We’ll get through this. We’ll do it delib­er­ate­ly. We cer­tain­ly are focused on this, and we won’t daw­dle.”

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

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