The Pentagon on Tuesday released a long-awaited report intended to advance a key campaign promise made by then-Sen. Obama to the fringe activist groups that supported his presidential aspirations. Now as commander in chief, President Obama has made it clear to military brass that he expects them to embrace the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) agenda. It should come as no surprise that the release of the military's new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" survey was carefully orchestrated to accomplish this mission.
From the outset, the Pentagon had no interest in eliciting honest responses from the troops about whether the law outlawing homosexual conduct in the ranks should be preserved or repealed. Instead, soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines were addressed in terms implying that repeal is inevitable. The Obama administration leaked selected results to sympathetic media to create the illusion that the troops have no problem stacking the barracks and submarines with homosexuals. The final report's release is a last-ditch effort to provide Democratic members of Congress the cover they need to ram through the law's repeal in the lame-duck session.
It isn't going to work. A closer examination of the headline result shows that 63 percent of respondents live off-base or in civilian housing and consequently answered that a change in policy might not affect them. Those in combat roles - where unit cohesion and trust are life-and-death concerns - gave a different response. About half with combat experience said a change would have a negative or very negative impact in the field or at sea. Among Marine combat troops, two-thirds said combat readiness would suffer.
Perhaps that's why the working group held 51 "information exchange forums" at bases only in the United States, Germany and Japan. Minimizing the views of those serving in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan helped further dilute the potential for a negative response.
Even so, more revealing answers came in response to questions about particular situations, including what would happen to those ordered to share a tent or shower with a known homosexual. More than 61 percent said they would take some sort of action to avoid this situation, if possible. Only 6 percent of troops said repeal would improve either recruitment or morale, and about a quarter said they would leave the military early if the repeal is signed into law. "There was nothing in that report that showed a single benefit to the military in terms of readiness, recruiting or retention," Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, explained at a press conference yesterday. "There is no compelling reason to do this."
In contrast, allowing open homosexual conduct would only "benefit" a tiny - but loud - minority. Since 2005, only 1 percent of those booted from the military were kicked out for violating the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rules. It's dangerous to cater to this handful at the expense of hundreds of thousands of troops who, according to the results, would begin planning their exit from the military if the policy were changed. This nation's defenses shouldn't be so weakened.
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