Wednesday, September 30, 2009

End of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" In Sight?

A Colonel who is now serving in Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's office (OSD for short) has published a piece in Joint Force Quarterly, arguing against the policy that was Clinton's dodge of the issue--whether gays and lesbians could serve openly in the US Armed Forces. Not only is Col. Om Prakash serving in OSD, not only did the paper win the Defense National Security Essay competition, but the publication of JFQ is vetted by the big guy himself--the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.

The big quotes in the piece (as summarized by the NY Times):
“after a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.”

Colonel Prakash concludes that “it is not time for the administration to re-examine the issue.” Instead, he writes, “it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.”

“In an attempt to allow homosexual servicemembers to serve quietly, a law was created that forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of ‘equality for all,’ places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas, and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve,” Colonel Prakash writes.

It is about time that reality is applied to this issue. So, good to see that a reasonable argument is being made, one that seems to have imprimatur of both the Secretary of Defense (a Republican) and the Chairman of the JCS (probably a Republican). Obama's plate is already over-full, and he has to be careful how to deal with this issue, given the other balls in play (health care, cap and trade, etc.), but there may be a way for him to stop enforcement via executive order and then let Congress debate the issue later. He can make some kind of announcement about the needs of national security with two wars going on require all hands on deck, and so forth.

We live in interesting times.

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