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Saturday, December 4, 2010

U.S. Generals vs "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Keep Ban During Wartime

U.S. Generals: Don't Rescind Military Gay Ban

The top uniformed leaders of the United States Air Force, Army and Marine Corps warned Congress on Friday that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" now would hurt the military's ability to fight the war in Afghanistan.

The service chiefs put themselves squarely opposed to their civilian bosses on one of President Barack Obama's top legislative priorities. The testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee was likely to bolster congressional opposition to the change.

"I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back, on the negative perceptions held by our Marines who are most engaged in the hard work of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan," Marine commandant Gen. James Amos said, citing a Pentagon survey that found 58 percent of Marines and 48 percent of Army respondents think lifting the ban would have negative consequences.

"Successfully integrating gays and lesbians into small Marine combat units has strong potential for disruption and will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat," Amos said.

Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Norman Schwarz, Air Force chief of staff, agreed.

"Implementation of the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' would be a major cultural and policy change in the middle of a war," Casey said. "It would be implemented by a force and leaders that are already stretched by the cumulative impacts of almost a decade at war."

Republican opponents of repeal said the Joint Chiefs' testimony confirmed their argument that lifting the ban would have negative consequences for the military.

"I will not agree to have this bill go forward, and neither will, I believe, 41 of my colleagues, either, because our economy is in the tank," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "Our economy is in the tank, and the American people want that issue addressed."

Even the heads of the Navy and Coast Guard, who said they favor repealing the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, warned that the change must be undertaken cautiously.

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Sources: CNN, Fox News, McClatchy Newspapers, PBS, Youtube, Google Maps

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