USA — Repeal Plan Proceeding Quickly, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2011 — The plan to end the ban on gay men and les­bians serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary is pro­gress­ing quick­ly, senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said here today.

Clif­ford L. Stan­ley, under­sec­re­tary of defense for per­son­nel and readi­ness, and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to Pen­ta­gon reporters in the first of a series of brief­in­gs that will chart the department’s progress in imple­ment­ing repeal of the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“My sense is [we have a] real­ly good work­ing rela­tion­ship with the ser­vices as we do this, … not only the ser­vice chiefs, but the senior enlist­ed,” Stan­ley said. “You get good vibes about where we are in terms of coop­er­a­tion [and] infor­ma­tion com­ing forth.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed the repeal into law Dec. 22, with pro­vi­sions ensur­ing the repeal will not take place until 60 days after he, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cer­ti­fy the mil­i­tary ser­vices are ready.

As part of today’s brief­ing, offi­cials dis­trib­uted copies of two mem­os con­tain­ing the department’s guid­ance on repeal imple­men­ta­tion. The first, signed by Gates, sets a plan­ning dead­line of Feb. 4. The sec­ond, which Stan­ley signed, out­lines pol­i­cy changes.

“Strong, engaged and informed lead­er­ship will be required at every lev­el to imple­ment the repeal … prop­er­ly, effec­tive­ly, and in a delib­er­ate and care­ful man­ner,” Gates’ memo read in part.

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

Gates’ guid­ing prin­ci­ples for imple­men­ta­tion stress respect for indi­vid­u­als and com­mon across-the-ser­vices stan­dards, while pro­hibit­ing harass­ment, unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion and poli­cies based sole­ly on sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion.

Gates direct­ed that a repeal imple­men­ta­tion team lead the process to devel­op plans, update poli­cies and train the force. “What you’re going to see as we move for­ward, we have actu­al­ly

three tiers as we get to the train­ing part,” Stan­ley said.

The three lev­els of train­ing begin with pol­i­cy mak­ers, chap­lains, lawyers and coun­selors; con­tin­ue with lead­ers includ­ing com­mand­ing offi­cers, senior non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers and senior civil­ians; and cul­mi­nate with troops across the ser­vices.

Cartwright said the tiers don’t have to be sequen­tial, and the ser­vices can con­duct the lev­els of train­ing as they see fit.

Present at today’s brief­ing were Vir­ginia “Vee” Pen­rod, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary for mil­i­tary per­son­nel pol­i­cy and chair­woman of the repeal imple­men­ta­tion team, and Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Steven Hum­mer, the team’s chief of staff.

Pen­rod said the team has worked for sev­er­al weeks with ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives to devel­op train­ing guid­ance, mod­ules and plans. “We expect to have those accom­plished next week,” she said. “It’s been a joint effort, with not only the mil­i­tary depart­ments but [also] the Joint Staff, to devel­op con­sis­tent train­ing.”

Hum­mer said the team is devel­op­ing a “stan­dard­ized commander’s toolk­it” for the train­ing effort. The ser­vices can tai­lor the toolk­it to ensure the train­ing meets their spe­cif­ic needs, he added. The train­ing pack­ets will include videos fea­tur­ing the ser­vice com­man­ders, pre­sen­ta­tions out­lin­ing pol­i­cy con­sid­er­a­tions, and a series of vignettes train­ers can use to spur audi­ence dis­cus­sions.

The team also is charged with prepar­ing progress reports and updat­ing Gates every two weeks on pol­i­cy devel­op­ment and train­ing progress.

“We know, when you’re deal­ing with 2 and half mil­lion peo­ple and a new pol­i­cy, that we’re prob­a­bly going to have some dis­cov­ery as we go,” Cartwright said. The two-week updates pro­vide a feed­back mech­a­nism that will allow defense and ser­vice lead­ers to track what they’ve learned, react, and then move for­ward, he added. “That will all be con­sid­ered in the so-called cal­cu­lus of when we go to the sec­re­tary and the chair­man to cer­ti­fy,” the vice chair­man said.

Stanley’s memo detailed mil­i­tary pol­i­cy changes that will hap­pen when repeal takes place. Defense offi­cials empha­sized that any changes will not take effect until repeal is imple­ment­ed, and that all cur­rent poli­cies remain in force in the mean­time.

Most poli­cies will not change, includ­ing those cov­er­ing stan­dards of con­duct, equal oppor­tu­ni­ty, per­son­al pri­va­cy, mil­i­tary ben­e­fits, med­ical treat­ment and duty assign­ments. But recruit­ing, re-access­sions and sep­a­ra­tion poli­cies will change. Sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion will no longer serve as a bar to enlist­ment or a return to the mil­i­tary, or as a rea­son for dis­missal.

Stan­ley said that while the depart­ment does­n’t see the need for many pol­i­cy changes, there is a def­i­nite need for pol­i­cy clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

“We are fun­da­men­tal­ly focused right now on our lead­er­ship, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, dis­ci­pline and respect,” he said. “I have to under­score that every per­son who serves and who wears a uni­form — and to include our civil­ians, who are work­ing with­in the Depart­ment of Defense — they take an oath. And that oath breaks into that foun­da­tion of lead­er­ship, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, dis­ci­pline and respect.”

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

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