By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.December 3, 2010
I've reviewed the final version of the working group report on the issues associated with the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell." And I want to be able to provide my informed military advice to the Committee.
I'll begin by relating how I see the military risks -- the risk from a military perspective. Then I'll give you my views on the impact on the force if "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" is repealed.
First, I think it's important that we're clear about the military risks. 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.
It would be implemented by a force and leaders that are already stretched by the cumulative effects of almost a decade at war. It would be implemented by a force in which a substantial number of Soldiers perceive that repeal will have a negative impact on unit effectiveness, cohesion, and morale, and that implementation will be difficult.
Further, the report clearly states that over 40 percent of our combat armed Soldiers believe that the presence of a gay Service member in their unit would have a negative impact on the unit's effectiveness, on the trust that the Soldiers feel for each other, and on their morale.
As such, I believe that the implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" in the near term will, one, add another level of stress to an already stretched force; two, be more difficult in our combat arms units; and, three, be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests.
That said, if repeal is directed, the implementation principles in the report constitute a solid basis upon which to develop plans that will mitigate the risks that I just describe.
Properly implemented, I do not envision that the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" would keep us from accomplishing our worldwide missions, including combat operations. We have a disciplined force and seasoned leaders, who with appropriate guidance and direction, can oversee the implementation of repeal with moderate risk to our military effectiveness in the short term and moderate risk to our ability to recruit and retain this All-Volunteer Force over the long haul.
I do believe that we will have to closely monitor the impact on our mid-level officers and non-commissioned officers as they wrestle with implementing repeal simultaneously with the other challenges they're facing after nine years at war.
So it's my judgment that we could implement repeal with moderate risk to our military effectiveness in the long term health of our force.
Let me close by saying that if "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" is repealed, the Army will work with the [Defense] Department and the other Services to finalize the implementation plans and implement repeal in the same disciplined fashion that's characterized our service to this country for 235 years.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.