US Military Downplays Impact of DADT Repeal
While Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey is “worried” about the politicization of the US military, the Department of Defense has published some starkly pointed articles praising the repeal of the politically-charged policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
This largely mirrors the narrative in the mainstream press — everybody is “cool” with homosexuals serving in the US military (and think of the children…). Amazingly, little attention is given to the voices saying its not as rose-colored as some seem to think. The Stars and Stripes pointed out one negative finding otherwise unreported in the press. Elaine Donnelly got a single line. Only the FRC has noted the Palm Center buried their own data showing 20% of units that had a homosexual “come out” after repeal had a negative impact as a result — data that is hardly a “non-event.”
In “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Never Mattered,” a US Marine Corporal took to the internet under an official DoD byline to say DADT repeal has done nothing — good or bad. Ignoring for a moment that he’s taking about federal law, so it certainly “mattered,” it is more interesting to see his source for such a claim: The agenda-based “study” performed by the Palm Center, which Corporal Sean Dennison manages to call an “exhaustive work” while keeping a straight face.
(Nathaniel Frank, one of the authors of the study, has been unabashed about his bias and critical of the “exaggerated” claims of those whom his study was meant to undermine.)
The Corporal pontificates on the greater issues:
DADT always seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to me…Gay servicemen and women were getting discharged during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns…when the last thing on anybody’s mind should’ve been their fellow fighter’s bedfellows…
Civil rights aside, DADT never made sense to me logistically. Of the thousands discharged, how many were mission-critical specialists, including linguists, infantry men, and medical aides? What difference could they have made on the front line?
A “knee jerk reaction?” What part of the 200-year ban on homosexual service in the US military was “knee jerk?” The comment about others’ “bedfellows” is likewise naïve, considering the US military has always — and still does — evaluate the behavior of its troops for acceptability.
The comment on the “logistical” impact of discharging “mission critical” troops who were breaking the law is similarly ignorant. As noted here years ago, the US military discharged more people for being pregnant or overweight (but physically fit) than it did for being homosexual. What of the impact that larger group would have had on the mission? What of their “civil rights?”
Dennison does say there have been some “adverse reactions” to repeal, but says
uniformed professionalism usually won out in these encounters.
Therein lies the self-fulfilling prophecy that is DADT repeal. US troops could be told to fight the enemy with only a spork and an eyepatch while singing tunes by Elton John. There would certainly be protests prior to such a policy being put in place, but once it was, US servicemembers would do what they always do in such situations: salute smartly and carry on.
Adhering to military policies does not equate to agreeing with them, nor does the implementation of such policies validate them. Saying there have been ‘no problems’ since DADT was repealed is no more surprising than saying there were ‘no problems’ when the Army went to the universal black beret or space operators lost their flight suits. Lots of people didn’t like it. They still did it. The US military is not the Chicago teachers’ union. If told to jump, troops jump.
The impact of social policy changes like that of DADT can be measured in two ways: The effect on the institutional moral state and the impact to military effectiveness. The change to the institutional moral state is obvious; the only question is whether one considers that change “good” or “bad.” To effectiveness, short of actually ordering troops into battle without bullets there would be no immediate measurable result to almost any similar institutional change. In other words, only time will tell.
Even so, there may not be a direct correlation between the US military’s institutional acceptance of homosexuality and military effectiveness (ie, A negative moral direction results in negative effectiveness). Obviously, “immoral” armies have had significant military successes throughout world history.