Service Secretaries Receive ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal Plan

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2011 — Pen­ta­gon offi­cials today sent the Defense Department’s imple­men­ta­tion plan for repeal of the law com­mon­ly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the ser­vice sec­re­taries with a March 1 dead­line for their first progress update.

Clif­ford L. Stan­ley, under­sec­re­tary of defense for per­son­nel and readi­ness, issued the plan, which out­lines the stages of action, includ­ing those actions that must be com­plet­ed before the depart­ment revers­es the pol­i­cy bar­ring peo­ple who are gay, les­bian, or bisex­u­al from serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary.

Dur­ing a Jan. 28 news con­fer­ence on the imple­men­ta­tion plan’s progress, Stan­ley stressed that Defense Depart­ment offi­cials had coor­di­nat­ed close­ly with the Army, Navy, Air Force Marine Corps and Coast Guard to craft a plan designed to ensure the con­tin­ued smooth oper­a­tion of the ser­vices dur­ing repeal.

“We are fun­da­men­tal­ly focused right now on our lead­er­ship, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, dis­ci­pline and respect,” he said.

The plan issued today close­ly fol­lows pre­vi­ous­ly released guid­ance on imple­ment­ing repeal. The plan does not give dates for the imple­men­ta­tion phas­es; defense offi­cials repeat­ed­ly have said the process will be “con­di­tions-based” and will go for­ward based on the ser­vices’ progress, includ­ing the train­ing of their peo­ple and updat­ing poli­cies.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ ini­tial guid­ance stressed the impor­tance of “strong, engaged and informed lead­er­ship” at every lev­el to imple­ment the repeal, which he said should take place “prop­er­ly, effec­tive­ly, and in a delib­er­ate and care­ful man­ner.”

“This is not, how­ev­er, a change that should be done incre­men­tal­ly,” the secretary’s guid­ance said. “The steps lead­ing to cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and the actu­al repeal must be accom­plished across the entire depart­ment at the same time.”

The pre-repeal phase of the plan released today, now under way, focus­es on train­ing the force and set­ting up chan­nels for ser­vices to report progress to the Pen­ta­gon and the White House. The Defense Depart­ment dis­trib­uted train­ing toolk­its to the ser­vices Feb. 4.

Defense offi­cials said all of the ser­vices par­tic­i­pat­ed in devel­op­ing the train­ing, and each can adapt the basic pack­age. Train­ing mate­ri­als are designed to be usable in low band­width and non­tra­di­tion­al train­ing set­tings, and include pre­sen­ta­tion slides with nar­ra­tion, scripts, fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions, vignettes, DoD pol­i­cy guid­ance, Sup­ple­men­tal Plan for Imple­men­ta­tion and Ser­vice spe­cif­ic mate­r­i­al. Train­ing is cen­tered around the themes of Lead­er­ship, Pro­fes­sion­al­ism, Dis­ci­pline and Respect.

The plan directs the ser­vices to sub­mit reports every two weeks, begin­ning March 1, on units and peo­ple trained and reg­u­la­tions updat­ed.

Prepa­ra­tion for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will begin when, in addi­tion to oth­er objec­tive and sub­jec­tive cri­te­ria, all poli­cies are updat­ed and the first two tiers of ser­vice mem­ber train­ing are com­plete. The first tier includes pol­i­cy mak­ers, chap­lains, lawyers and coun­selors, and the sec­ond cov­ers com­mand­ing offi­cers, senior non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers and senior civil­ians. The plan also stip­u­lates that pri­or to cer­ti­fi­ca­tion tier three train­ing for all remain­ing ser­vice mem­bers must be under way, with a prepa­ra­tion in place for train­ing com­ple­tion.

Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will cul­mi­nate in the sec­re­tary of defense and chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cer­ti­fy­ing to the pres­i­dent, as com­man­der in chief, that the depart­ment is ready to imple­ment the repeal. By law, when the pres­i­dent, sec­re­tary and chair­man have all cer­ti­fied the ser­vices are ready for the pol­i­cy change, a fur­ther 60 days must elapse before the new pol­i­cy takes place.

Dur­ing imple­men­ta­tion, the ser­vices will con­tin­ue tier three train­ing, begin sus­tain­ment train­ing, and mon­i­tor the effects of imple­men­ta­tion. The ser­vices and Defense Depart­ment also will con­tin­ue to pre­pare progress reports.

The plan out­lines ongo­ing sus­tain­ment to begin after repeal, dur­ing which pol­i­cy reviews, train­ing pro­grams and mon­i­tor­ing assess­ments will con­tin­ue and be refined as need­ed.

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

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