Excellent opinion piece in the Washington Times from our friend Howie Lind...
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently testified to Congress that members of the U.S. armed forces who oppose lifting the ban on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should leave the military.
Maybe Admiral Mullen should heed his own advice and resign since he is so far out of step with "his" military. The majority of service members and uniformed leaders of the military do not want any changes to the current policy toward gay service members.
The proponents of changing this policy to allow gays, lesbians, and transgenders to serve openly in the U.S. military repeatedly point to two "polls", the first one that 70% of Americans agree with the change, and the second one that a "strong majority" of current service members want to change the policy based on a recent survey given to the military.
These are both wrong. Regarding the national "poll" of Americans, Admiral Mullen and other leaders in favor of lifting this ban have not explained at all to the public the negative consequences of this new policy. This is like asking Americans if they want world peace. The answer, of course is yes. For the survey to active duty military members, the question was NOT asked, "should the policy be changed?" But, rather "How should the change be implemented?" That makes a huge difference as to who actually fills out the survey especially since only 6 percent of the military responded to the survey.
The purpose of the U.S. military is to protect our nation through deterrence first; and if that fails, then through armed conflict. The fundamental ability for our military to fight and win wars is accomplished via unit cohesion. That means at the individual squad, ship, and aircrew levels, all service members must operate at 100% effectiveness. These service men and women eat, work, sleep, and bathe in very close proximity for extended periods of time. Open homosexuality at this level will degrade the cohesiveness and thereby, the combat effectiveness, of our nation's warriors.
There is no civilian comparison to this type of environment. So asking this question to the general public -- most of whom of have never served in the military -- is meaningless. This is not a civil rights issue. It is an issue of human sexuality.
And this is not about being anti-gay. It is about being pro-military and supporting the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who do the tough work of defending our country.
Howie Lind Commander, US Navy (retired) McLean, VA
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