Continued from page 1

“I would recommend against it,” Gen. Casey said. ” Aside from the legal issues …, it would complicate the whole process that Secretary Gates had laid out. We would be put in a position of actually implementing it while we were studying implementation. And I don’t think that would be prudent.”

Mr. Levin then asserted “you’re not implementing anything. You’re just withholding discharges until that study is completed.”

Gen. Casey held firm.

“Chairman, this process is going to be difficult and complicated enough,” he said. “Anything that complicates it more, I think I would be opposed to.”

The general, who once led all forces in Iraq, underscored the importance of the chiefs’ opinion on the gay ban when he was asked how his commanders view it.

“Their input is certainly welcome,” he said. “But we’re the ones responsible for organizing and preparing the forces that they employ. We the service chiefs have a greater stake in it. But their reasoned opinions are always welcome.”

Anti-ban forces saw their testimony as a plus.

“All the chiefs who testified on [“don’t ask, don’t tell”] repeal this week are essentially on the same page,” said Kevin Nix, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “All agree with the approach laid out earlier this month by Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen on how to repeal [it], not whether there is repeal.”