The military’s top brass in a hearing today before the House Armed Services Committee denied engaging in “sensitivity training” by instructing troops about various aspects of homosexuality in connection to the implementation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
They similarly testified they did not see any perceivable threat to military readiness from Congress’ repeal of the law barring homosexuals from serving openly in the military.
But not all of the reports were positive, as one leader said nearly two out of three Marine combat personnel expressed concerns about the changes. And the commanders affirmed they would follow the letter of the law and take disciplinary action against service members who might take issue with the training.
Testifying were Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Marine Commandant James Amos and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz.
It was Chiarelli and Schwartz who said there would be ramifications for those who objected to the imposition of the new policy.
Each of the top military officers expressed a firm commitment to retaining a high level of military readiness in spite of the repeal, emphasizing it would be done in a disciplined and orderly fashion.
“We monitor readiness and all of the components of readiness continuously and all of the factors that are involved,” Roughead said. “I think it is telling that in the survey itself in those units where members served with gay and lesbian sailors – that they rated readiness either well or very well.”
The admiral went on to say the Navy was not engaging in sensitivity training in its implementation of the education and training phase of the repeal. The Navy, he said, anticipates completing its implementation of its training by July 1.
Chiarelli, speaking on behalf of Army Chief of Staff George Casey, testified that only a moderate risk existed to the Army’s overall readiness and effectiveness.
Amos gave the committee a far different assessment, saying that 60 percent of Marine combat personnel who had been surveyed expressed reservations about allowing homosexuals to serve openly.
The Air Force anticipates completing a force-wide implementation of its training program by the end of June, which so far has trained 23 percent of its personnel or approximately 117,000 officers and airmen.
During questioning, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., an Iraq veteran and former Army lieutenant colonel, took issue with the implementation.
“My concern is very simple, the military exists to win wars, and I think when we get to the point where we start talking about where the military accommodates individual behaviors, that’s what I get concerned with,” West said.
West then began a line of questioning the brass with regard to the requirements for certain units, such as height and weight, making the point that military and civilian standards differ.
“This is me kind of getting on my pulpit. … I think the thing the people in the administration need to understand is that we are different,” he said. “We have haircut standards. People might think somebody with a ponytail can serve just as well as we can, but that’s just not who we are and part of our standards.
“I want our subordinate leaders, that if they see problems with implementation of these programs, that they are not afraid of retribution from special-interest civilian groups that will cause them to exacerbate what could be a dangerous situation.”
Chiarelli and Schwartz responded with assurances regarding disciplinary action against service members with objections to the training.
“I would ask that you stand firm and that you would not certify this,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. “You can stop this still and not just do something because of political correctness.”
Asked whether chaplains would be forced to perform same-sex marriages, Schwartz said chaplains in his service would not be forced to do so.
But when asked by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., how the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would improve the standards of the nation’s military, the brass testified the change would not have an appreciable impact.
Responding to the hearing, Coral Ridge Ministries said the new policy “is not the right thing to do.”
“It is an abrupt break with our moral heritage with consequences not just for the armed forces but for American culture at large,” the group said. “The military seal of approval on homosexual conduct will remove the last institutional barrier to societal acceptance of homosexual conduct.
“It will serve as a social wrecking ball against traditional morality across America, hasten the legalization of same-sex marriage, and eventually make opposition to homosexual conduct illegal.”
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, believes that the introduction of openly serving “gays” and lesbians will cause disruptions and morale problems in the armed forces.
Donnelly recently sent a list of proposed questions to members of the House Armed Services Committee over repeal of the 1993 law – including how will the military deal with transgendered soldiers.
Donnelly explained the difference between DADT and the 1993 law. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was imposed administratively by Bill Clinton after he signed the law, which actually bans homosexuals from serving in the military. The muddled DADT policy said homosexuals could serve if they didn’t tell anyone about their chosen sexual lifestyle
In her document sent to the committee, Donnelly included a series of questions – not only on homosexuals serving in the military, but also on what impact transgenders will have if they are permitted to serve in the military. On the subject, she is asking:
- Will recruiters be required to induct transgendered persons or individuals who desire “gender reassignment” treatment and surgery? If not, what would the rationale be?
- What will the Defense Department policy be with regard to uniform differences, exceptions, or alterations for men transitioning to female appearance and women transitioning to male appearance?
- What will the Defense Department policy be with regard to military medical services and medications for transgendered personnel, to include hormone treatments and surgery to change sexual appearance and identity for personnel seeking gender “re-assignment?”
- What is the estimated annual cost of providing such services to transgendered personnel and those seeking gender “re-assignment?”
- What will the Defense Department policy be with regard to the housing of transgendered biological males living with females and vice versa?
- Will a man who shows up for duty in a regulation female uniform, or a woman in a man’s uniform, be considered appropriately dressed? What would be the rationale for denying that opportunity on an equal basis to male and female cross-dressers or transgenders?
- Q: Will the military services allow a man to wear only approved male garb on-base, but female dress off-base? If so, how does this affect the principle that military regulations apply both on-base and off-base, 24/7?
- Will the military services allow LGBT individuals or couples to participate in social events dressed in ways that reflect their sexuality, in the same way that women dress to please men?