"We used to conform behavior to the military. Now we're conforming the military to behavior."
Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Republican, belled the cat neatly during a hearing last Friday on the military's breakneck pace in implementing the new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) law.
Mr. West, whose 20-plus years in the U.S. Army included combat commands, noted that he and others at Fort Bragg had to endure "sensitivity training" in the 1990s. It didn't enhance the "warrior ethos," he recalled.
What became clear at the hearing of the House Armed Services Committee's Personnel Subcommittee chaired by Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, is that the Pentagon is forging into unknown territory, driven by political correctness, not military need.
Mr. Wilson, Mr. West and Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, were openly skeptical about how honest the process has been. Mr. West noted that political correctness can prove costly, as when commanders ignored Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's plunge into radical Islam before the Fort Hood shootings. Likewise, people are afraid to share qualms over the LGBT law, Mr. West said.
Let's pause. To come right to the point, I'm going to summarize in a voice adapted from a Tom Clancy novel:
"Here's the skinny. Two Pentagon pukes showed up and dodged every important question about whether it's a good idea to have open homosexuality in the armed forces. Republican reps nailed them several times, but didn't go in for the kill. However, they landed heavy ordnance and got plenty on the record to show how stupid, immoral and (expletive) reckless this is."
The deal was supposed to be that forcing soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen to accept homosexuality would not begin until 60 days after three men - President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen - "certify" that it won't hurt military readiness.
Neither witness - Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Clifford L. Stanley nor Navy Vice Admiral William B. Gortney - would say that implementing the LGBT law that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Barney Frank, both Democrats, rammed through the lame-duck Congress would make the military stronger, just that problems can be, well, "mitigated." Wars? What wars?
What they should have said was: "We're rushing to do what Mr. Obama wants before the country awakens from its fiscal nightmare and realizes we're trashing the moral culture of the only military we've got."
The Pentagon began "sensitizing" personnel on March 1, starting with chaplains. They have already "trained" 9 percent of the troops and hope to finish by midsummer. The subcommittee's liberals ordered the military to move even faster. Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine Democrat, urged "a rapid pace" to overturn a "horrendous" and "morally reprehensible policy." Likewise, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts Democrat, wanted to make sure that "diversity" training will be "an ongoing, ever-present element" and that the service academies would not escape. Adm. Gortney told her that training would be ongoing and "no different" at West Point and Annapolis.
On the other side, Mr. Wilson, joined by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, Rep. Austin Scott, Georgia Republican, Mr. Coffman and Mr. West asked questions that revealed the military is clueless about how much this will hurt readiness, retention, morale and recruitment.
Ms. Hartzler asked why, if the military won't put men and women together in barracks and showers, would we force them into intimate conditions with those who may be sexually attracted to them? "Sexual orientation," after all, is really sexual attraction.
Adm. Gortney responded that the two sexes differ by "gender," while sexual orientation is "personal and private." Really? It was already "personal and private" under the law and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The whole purpose of the LGBT law is to make volitional homosexual behavior public, not private. As for the previous law, in a written response to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Stanley accepted 12 of the 15 findings that anchored passage of the legislation in 1993. Those findings still indicate it would be madness to revoke the law.
Over and over, the two witnesses gave PC mush and asserted that other nations had done this, so we can, too. After all, we're just like Holland. For one lucid moment, however, Mr. Stanley left the PC bubble and pointed out, "We are the United States. We're a little different" from other militaries. Yes. We have the entire free world depending on us.
Both Mr. Stanley and Adm. Gortney insisted that chaplains and others troubled by the new policy will face no repercussions. Sure they won't. Adm. Mullen has already invited anyone who disagrees to leave the military.
"We're not asking anyone to change their beliefs, just treat everyone with respect," Adm. Gortney said. What if you don't respect your (male) commander for having sex with other men or wearing a dress and pumps while on leave?
How about the cost of the training? Mr. Stanley said the Pentagon has spent $10,000. Mr. Scott noted wryly that it would be a miracle if anything came out of the Pentagon costing only $10,000. Mr. Stanley did not address how much time and treasure it's really costing taxpayers to retrain nearly 2 million people in New Age notions about sex.
The full Armed Services Committee is slated to hold another hearing on Thursday with the Joint Chiefs as witnesses. If the GOP members occupy the ground that the subcommittee established and ask more tough questions, it will be hard for Mr. Obama, Mr. Gates and Adm. Mullen to "certify" with a straight face that this won't harm the military.
For liberals, letting the facts get out is the sum of all fears.
Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.
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