Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Takes on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
June 19, 2009
Writing in today's Washington Post, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John M. Shalikashvili (Ret.) addresses the military's ban on gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers known as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He debunks arguments that open service by gay troops would undermine unit cohesion, that we have little to learn from other countries who allow open service, and that the military isn't ready for this kind of change. He specifically addresses a group of former officers who argue for keeping the ban that say it would "break the All-Volunteer force." His reply: "Not only is there no evidence to support these conclusions, but research shows conclusively that openly gay service members would not undermine military readiness." How refreshing... an evidence-based approach, rather than a reliance on what he says is "speculation or emotion." Making the point on a more personal level, he mentions the thousands of quality servicemembers who are no longer fighting to keep our country safe due to the policy (including Alex Nicholson, the Arabic linguist featured in the documentary "Ask Not" that we posted on earlier this week):
Under current policy, we have lost more than 13,000 of those people, such as the Arabic language speaker featured in the new film "Ask Not." In addition, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have found that nearly 4,000 people leave voluntarily each year because of the ban, and that more than 40,000 recruits might join if the ban is ended.