(CNN) –The Pentagon on Wednesday began sending out to troops a survey of more than 100 questions seeking their views on the impact of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" restrictions prohibiting gays and lesbians from openly serving in the U.S. military.
An administration official confirmed to CNN that the survey is being sent to 200,000 active duty troops and 200,000 reserve troops. The official declined to be identified because the survey has not officially been made public.
The survey, which service members can expect to receive via e-mail, asks about such issues as how unit morale or readiness might be affected if a commander is believed to be gay or lesbian; the need to maintain personal standards of conduct; and how repeal might affect willingness to serve in the military.
Washington (CNN) - Gen. Stanley McChrystal knew he lacked White House support when he walked into an Oval Office meeting Wednesday with President Barack Obama, a source close to McChrystal told CNN.
According to the source, McChrystal briefly explained the magazine article at the center of the controversy and took responsibility, then offered his resignation. Obama accepted the resignation, the source said.
The president "had no intention of keeping him," and McChrystal knew that going into the meeting, according to the source.
In addition, the source said McChrystal will not return to Afghanistan. His team will go back to pack up on his behalf.
Updated: 7:11 p.m.
Washington (CNN) - The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command are updating military plans to strike Iran's nuclear sites, preparing up-to-date options for the president in the event he decides to take such action, an Obama administration official told CNN Sunday.
The effort has been underway for several weeks and comes as there is growing concern across the administration's national security team that the president needs fresh options ready for his approval if he were to decide on a military strike, according to the official who is familiar with the effort.
The official did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the work being conducted.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued to amp up his rhetoric against the West on Sunday, claiming that Iran is so powerful today that no country would dare attack it.
"Iran's army is so mighty today that no enemy can have a foul thought of invading Iran's territory," the Iranian leader said in a speech, according to state media.
Washington (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce changes Thursday easing the Defense Department's controversial "don't ask don't tell" policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the military, a senior Defense Department official has confirmed to CNN.
The official said one of the changes will be that outings by third parties may no longer be automatic grounds for initiating separation proceedings, especially if it is proven that the person making the allegation has a grudge against the military member.
Gates' announcement will focus on regulatory changes that can be made at the Pentagon without the approval of Congress, which has been debating whether to change the law. President Barack Obama has asked for a repeal of the controversial measure.
Washington (CNN) - The National Naval Medical Center has opened a review of the surgical care provided to the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, who died last week following complications from a recent surgery.
A senior US military official declined to speak on the record citing privacy concerns but confirmed to CNN the review includes an in-depth "quality assurance" and review of the outcomes of the care Murtha received.
The Navy is keeping the Murtha family apprised of its findings.
While at the Navy's hospital in Bethesda, Maryland Murtha had his gallbladder removed on January 28 using a laparoscopic surgical technique. He later became ill and died at Virginia Hospital Center - a local civilian hospital the Washington DC area - on February 8. He was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit on January 31.
Military sources say its believed Murtha's intestine may have been nicked during the initial procedure leading to massive infection. In a statement to CNN earlier this month, a source close to the congressman told CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that was the case.
Washington (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "real reservations" about the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan publishing his recommendations for improved intelligence operations in that country, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
Maj. Gen, Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, published a nearly 30-page document entitled "Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan," through the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The center is closely affiliated with the Obama administration and with experts consulted by Democratic officials.
The report was deeply critical of ongoing intelligence activities and made several recommendations for changes.
Publication through a think tank was highly unorthodox, especially for an intelligence-related matter.
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Thursday that Gates thought the analysis by Flynn was "brilliant" and the recommendations were "spot on."
But "that said, he (Gates) has real reservations about the general's choice of venue for publication," Morrell said.
WASHINGTON (CNN)– President Barack Obama's national security team will begin discussing the number of troops needed in Afghanistan as early as this Friday, according to a White House spokesman.
In an unusual move, the president asked for and received the "informal" request by the top commander in Afghanistan which outlined how many more troops and resources Gen. Stanley McChrystal needed to implement his preferred Afghanistan strategy, the Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday. Obama received the request on Thursday, a day before he met with McChrystal in Copenhagen.
The discussion of troop levels appears to be a departure from the administration insistance that the Afghanistan strategy must be decided before any resources can be considered. The White House's spokesman said the introduction of troop levels did not mean resource levels were being decided first.
"One has to develop and get the strategy before one can figure out the resources one needs to get it," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "We are not pre-judging the outcome of the discussion based on some range of resources."
Washington (CNN) - CNN has learned that Army officials a few weeks ago met with Sen. Edward Kennedy’s staff and presented a plan that has his final resting place may be just a few feet from the graves of his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a senior Defense Department official with direct knowledge of funeral planning.
The meeting occurred at Arlington National Cemetery, the official confirmed. The plan was then given to the family by staff members. The proposed gravesite is 95 feet south of the grave of the late Senator Robert Kennedy. Arlington National Cemetery is now awaiting final word from the Kennedy family on approval of that site.
The senior official said a final decision is expected from the Kennedy family in the next two days, discussions with family representatives are ongoing at this time
Sen. Kennedy was eligible for burial at Arlington as a serving member of Congress but also on the basis he served honorably on active duty in the Army from 1951 to 1953.
The identified plot of land is currently covered with grass and is near to both Robert Kennedy’s grave and the gravesite of the late President John F. Kennedy. At this point, U.S. military ceremonial units have not received orders for participating in a funeral, but military sources say a typical congressional funeral would include military personnel at the internment, a military team to carry the casket, a firing party for a gun salute and a bugler.
Any arrangements will depend on the family wishes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is expected to ask the Obama administration for additional troops and equipment, according to a senior U.S. military official familiar with Gen. Stanley McChrystal's thinking.
The request will be for troops and equipment for conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as more assets to deal with roadside bombs and explosives, said the official, who declined to be identified because McChrystal's request has not been formally transmitted to the Pentagon.
The request could be made in coming weeks after McChrystal completes a "troop-to-task review" to calculate whether there are enough U.S. troops in Afghanistan - and the right mix of troops - to carry out the military's war plan at an acceptable level of risk, the official said.
The review could also lead to a request for additional troops for either combat or training of Afghan forces, but the official emphasized McChrystal has not made a decision on that. The military already has tasked an additional 4,000 troops to train Afghan forces.
The official said McChrystal is likely to submit his recommendations to Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a series of options, with each option having a level of risk attached to it.
"This will start the discussion" within the highest levels of the administration about whether to send a significant number of additional troops, the official said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the first time is outlining potential Obama Administration plans to selectively enforce the "don't ask don't tell" ban on gays in the military so that some gays could serve.
Gates says he is now looking at ways to make the ban "more humane" including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover. The remarks were made in a transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon.
In addition, Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday the chairman "supports the idea of a less draconian way of enforcing the policy."
Gates told reporters traveling with him, "One of the things we're looking at - is there flexibility in how we apply this law?" As the "don't ask don't tell" law now stands, anyone who is openly gay in the military is expelled if they are found out.
Gates indicated he is looking at several options. "Let me give you an example. Do we need to be driven when the information, to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted."
Gates said he has discussed the issue with President Obama and also during a meeting with his top war-fighting commanders last week. At that military meeting Gates said. "The issue that we face is that how do we begin to do preparations and simultaneously the administration move forward in terms of asking the Congress to change the law."
Obama has been criticized for not moving fast enough to propose a repeal of the ban to Congress. Gates did not indicate the Pentagon was yet supporting a full repeal.
"What we have is a law - be it a policy or a regulation - and as I discovered when I got into it, it's a very prescriptive law. It doesn't leave much to the imagination for a lot of flexibility. And so one of the things we're looking at - is there flexibility in how we apply this law."
The secretary appears to be proposing interim measures. "If somebody is outed by a third party … does that force us to take an action? And I don't know the answer to that, and I don't want to pretend to. But that's the kind of thing we're looking at to see if there's at least a more humane way to apply the law until the law gets changed."