Mullen Looks to Congress to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask’, Ratify Arms Treaty

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11, 2010 — Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said he agrees with Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates that if the so-called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law is to be changed, it is much bet­ter changed by Con­gress than by the courts.

The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also said the Sen­ate should rat­i­fy the new Strate­gic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty as soon as possible. 

Mullen made the com­ments as part of the Bernard Brodie Dis­tin­guished Lec­ture Series at the UCLA cam­pus here yesterday. 

Con­gres­sion­al action on the law that bans gays from serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary would be bet­ter for the mil­i­tary than court deci­sions, the admi­ral said.

The admi­ral restat­ed his per­son­al belief that the law should be repealed. “I find it very dif­fi­cult to be in an insti­tu­tion that val­ues integri­ty — and integri­ty is a cor­ner­stone of the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary — and yet we ask peo­ple to come and join us and work every day as a liv­ing and sac­ri­fic­ing mem­ber of this great mil­i­tary, and lie every day about who they are,” he said. 

Mullen said he is look­ing for­ward to the report of a Defense Depart­ment group’s review of the law’s effect on the mil­i­tary, due out in ear­ly Decem­ber. “We now are gath­er­ing the results of research and it will inform my deci­sion to both Sec­re­tary Gates and the pres­i­dent on how we should pro­ceed on imple­men­ta­tion, should the law change,” Mullen said. He would not spec­u­late on whether he thinks Con­gress will vote on the mea­sure in its lame duck session. 

Mullen did, how­ev­er, urge the Sen­ate to rat­i­fy the new START treaty as soon as pos­si­ble. “The new START treaty is absolute­ly crit­i­cal,” he said. “This Decem­ber, we are com­ing up on a full year with no treaty with the Rus­sians, and these treaties have his­tor­i­cal­ly been broad­ly bipartisan.” 

The chair­man stressed that all of the senior mil­i­tary lead­ers strong­ly endorse the treaty. “Mil­i­tar­i­ly, it is sound,” he said. “What it reduces the num­bers to is more than enough for us to han­dle our mil­i­tary respon­si­bil­i­ties. From an over­all ver­i­fi­ca­tion issue, I’m con­fi­dent that we can ver­i­fy its exe­cu­tion with the Russians.” 

The new treaty con­tin­ues a decline in the num­ber of nuclear weapons – the most destruc­tive weapons in the arse­nals. Russ­ian lead­ers are com­mit­ted to the treaty, he said. 

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

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