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The admiral restated his personal belief that the law should be repealed.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)