Washington (CNN) – The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff walked a fine line Sunday as he stressed the need to complete the military’s internal review of the effects of repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy while remaining sufficiently deferential to Congress, which has taken significant steps in the past week to change the controversial policy.
Watch: Mullen on DADT
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both expressed their personal belief that the Clinton-era military policy against gays and lesbians serving openly should be changed. But Gates, the military’s top civilian leader, and much of the military’s top brass, including Mullen, have also said that they believe the Pentagon needs time to survey its rank and file to determine how service members feel about the policy change and to identify potential obstacles and pitfalls in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Under Gates’ direction, the Pentagon has begun a wide-ranging survey the results of which will not be available until December.
But, in a move that seems to be driven by this November’s midterm elections, both the House and a Senate committee passed measures last week that begin the process of repealing the law that created “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The congressional moves got what can only be described, at best, as a tepid response from Gates and the service chiefs.
Asked about the hurry that the Democratically-controlled Congress now seems to be in to change the policy, Mullen said the military review still needs to be completed and factored into any decision to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Related: Dem disappointed by quick moves on DADT
“I still think – and so does the Secretary of Defense – [that] it’s really critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most, as we look at the implementation challenges should the law change,” Mullen said Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Ideally, I would certainly have preferred that legislation not be brought forward, in terms of the change, until we are completed with that review.,” he added.
And Mullen suggested that the brisk pace of recent congressional efforts to do away with the policy does not necessarily mean the law would change quickly.
“Also, the congressional clock is sometimes pretty difficult to predict,” Mullen told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “And certainly the votes last week indicate that it’s moving but in terms of when it possibly might change, that’s really not done.”
And Mullen pointed out that the legislation currently winding its way through Congress requires that he, Secretary Gates, and President Obama ultimately approve the policy change before it can take effect.
“That certification is key in terms of when this - when we would be ready to implement it,” he said.
The Joint Chiefs Chairman said he was concerned about the potential impact on the military’s readiness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention.
“All that is in – very much still in play. In ways, it makes this review and collecting the information and understanding what’s going on - at the deck plate level from our troops and our families – that much more critical.
“So, we’ll complete that review. And certainly incorporate what we learn from that into implementation when that time comes.”
I would rather have a gay fighting next to me than a tea bagget.
I'd rather have a gay fighting next to me than a corporate deregulator or financial deregulator OR tea-bagger.
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
As a veteran, I find it appalling that our Liberal Congress headed by the likes of Harry Reid and Queen Nancy will enact DADT before giving those currently serving in our military to formally express their opinions on the matter! As is typical of Liberals, they know what's best for everyone and will cram their beliefs down our throats at all costs!
Question: How safe would YOU feel with Reid and and some flaming homosexual in a foxhole together defending your left flank? Enough said!
Why are they afraid to ask the service men and women their opinion on the matter.
The rest of the world has pretty much spoken on this.
It seems odd to me that the "Greatest Country In The World" is so BACKWARD in so many ways.
Gays in the military, just like everywhere else.
Grow up you closeted self questioning self loathing "Right" wing "Christian" Conservatives. Many of your friends and leaders are gay. You love them, respect them, UNTIL you find out that they are gay. The sad part (for you – OK, and them) isn't the gay part, but the LIE part. The environment you folks create leaves essentially good people with bad choices: lose your narrow minded fear filled "friendship" or lie about who you are.
All American soldiers blood is red when their bodies lie wounded and dying from combat, it's not gay, lesbian or straight, they are all someones loved one. On 9/11 does anyone know who was gay, lesbian or straight, no, because they all died together and we as a National didn't care about their sexual orientation.
Keith in Austin, I would be safer than I would with a dude who's more interested in what is the sexual preference of his/her fellow in arms than in his/her qualification to be a fellow in arms...
...like you for instance!
I hope that the government and the military are ready for thousands of lawsuits filed by heterosexual/straight military men and women for discrimination-–because their "rights' are being violated when they are forced to shower and bunk with openly gay men and women.
How will the government/military handle the decreased of volunteer enlistments-–as this is DEFINITELY going to happen.
The majority in the military are NOT gay.
The majority of those who are pushing to have DADT repealed-–are not in the military-- and they have no plans of joining the military.
The Troops voices have been silenced in favor of the Gay Vote. Way to go Mullen! The animosity created by this play will surely help a smooth transition.
The worst thing about "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is that people have used it to exact revenge or demonstrate pointless homophobia on homosexual military personnel.
We have lost badly needed translators, engineers, highly experienced pilots and others in the thousands not because of their conduct in the military but because some third party "outed" them to the command staff, who then felt they had no choice but to kick them out. One pilot I heard of was discharged in his 18th year of highly decorated service, costing him his pension, because of an anonymous complaint though he had never mentioned or practiced his sexual orientation on a military base.
How does this make sense?
By the way, I am a straight and married old lady.
As usual, the liberal leadership ignores the wishes of the people involved. In this case, the gay and lesbian troops involved.It's Only common sense to ask their feelings on the subject first.
I have served with guys I suspected or knew were gay and never had any problem with them. They only wanted to be of service to the country they love. I'd never worry if a gay person was in the foxhole with me as we would both be in the same fix and dependent on each other for our lives. To all and I do mean all who served with me in the time of war and watched my back as I watched theirs, I thank you for my life.Nuff said on the matter as it should be.
If the bigots in the military can't control their feelings about GBLTs, perhaps they are
1) unfit for duty
2) unaware our constitution defends human rights
3) religous zealots
None of which would be an asset to the US military. Perhaps the military bigots should seek employment elsewhere. I hear Iran hangs gay people. Maybe they would feel more comfortable as an Iranian military member.
No one in the military should be allowed to openly flaunt their sexuallity be they gay or not gay.
There's nothing to review – it's pure discrimination and every other allied military force doesn't have this stupid rule and they get by just fine.
Pandering to poofters is popular and populist. Good to hear a voice of reason from Webb, who has the guts to tick off politicos with assertions like "Why Women Can't Fight". Our slavish devotion to "diversity" even in environments where it may not be entirely appropriate on a fast track will potentially degrade the morale and readiness of the military, which is composed of many politically incorrect lower-class rednecks who won't ever accept gays no matter how valiant they may be. That's the reality on the ground and the compelling reason for deliberate transition.
Quite frankly completing the review now vs later will make no difference. It is simply a stall trick. Repeal don't ask don't tell now and let the implemintation be slow and according to recommendations by the military. But quite frankly military recommendations can only be about the process not about if it is done all together and thats what these conservative idiots are hoping the review does. Fox hole or not when you join the military the idea that you are there to do a job is ingrained into your brain. Sex, hobbies, politics are issues that our service members understand should not effect their job or how they do it. When your commander in chief says do something you do it without and regardless of your beliefs.