DADT repeal won't stop our mission
September 15, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- One of the most sweeping changes in U.S. law that directly affects the military is about to take place in a few days, though I expect its implementation to come and go without incident or fanfare. I am referring to the repeal of the law known as "Don't Ask Don't Tell," which will occur Sept. 20, barring any last-minute legal obstacles.
Don't Ask Don't Tell, or DADT, refers to the 1993 law that banned gay men and women from serving openly in the military. When the repeal takes effect, I am expecting a transparent transition here on Fort Jackson.
Simply put, there will be no change in the way we conduct our business. Our values require us to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's what we'll continue to do.
Now, it is only natural that this repeal will lead to some changes in Army policies. Many of our policies will require no change, because they are neutral in regard to sexual orientation. The Army will continue to move forward, to train and will finalize additional policies and processes related to this repeal, all the while staying engaged with the field to address any issues or questions that might arise.
One important item to note is that the Department of Defense policy not to ask service members or applicants about their sexual orientation remains constant. It is DoD policy to treat everyone with dignity and respect to ensure good order and discipline.
Another point that we all need to remember is that respect and professionalism are the mainstays of all military service. Any deviations from the highest standards of respect and professionalism, in any situation, are subject to appropriate corrective or disciplinary actions.
Of course, with anything that involves significant change, or in this case, a reversal of policy, there are going to be questions and situations that will occur that we may not have anticipated. We will answer and resolve each within the intent of the law and as professionals.
According to the conclusions of a DoD comprehensive report that examines the issues associated with the repeal of DADT, the repeal will likely, in the short term, bring about some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention. The report predicted that this disruption will not be widespread or long lasting.
Meanwhile, here are some key fundamental points that we need to keep in mind:
* Harassment or abuse for any reason has always been unacceptable and will be dealt with accordingly.
* All service members, regardless of sexual orientation, are entitled to an environment free from barriers to prevent them from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible.
* Sexual orientation will not be designated a class under the Military Equal Opportunity program; all service members will be treated equally, regardless of sexual preferences.
* This is not about changing attitudes. This is about the standard of conduct and treating one another with dignity and respect.
Upon careful analysis, you will see that most of these points are already rooted in our Army Values, which we can always rely on to guide us in our actions and conduct, in all situations. And, with DADT repeal, the emphasis is clearly on respect and integrity.
To help everyone prepare for the repeal, the Army has conducted training and has made a wealth of information available. Fort Jackson is certainly prepared. There have been nearly 3,000 permanent party Soldiers trained on the DADT repeal since February on Fort Jackson, and every Soldier entering Basic Combat Training receives the DADT policy briefing within the first weeks of training.
The Army has launched a new website that was implemented to educate the force and minimize misconceptions about the repeal. The website, which is located at www.army.mil/dadt features current articles, key facts, questions as well as additional resources. DoD has a web page on DADT that has articles and information on DADT, as well. The page is located at http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_dadt/.
And, consistent with the latest technology and learning methods, there is also a training app available. The app, which has been downloaded more than 5,000 times since it became available last month, allows anyone with a CAC card or an AKO account to select from Army training materials that he or she wants to download to an iPad, iPhone or Android mobile device.
With the repeal of DADT, again, Fort Jackson's mission remains unchanged: we will continue to transform volunteers into Soldiers for duty in the world's best Army.
Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!