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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DADT - Real Time

The Spit Shine has pulled together comments on various news and opinion stories that have run on DADT over the past three weeks. These are behind the cut, for easy read. Some are quite good.

I'm torn on the blog swarm. There are clear indications that many in the military itself would prefer this to be a non-political issue, rather than a 'Big Gay Victory' for the Left. On the other hand, the months running up to November are starting to feel like a mini lame duck, given the hit to the majority that many expect in the Senate, so time is short.


The fact that current sub crews are complacent toward gay shipmates is no different from our pride in our 1960s COB (1960s) [Chief of the Boat] - a top performer. We never knew he was gay until he slipped up in shore duty trolling later.

In my four years in the military (1947-51), the only way I knew if a fellow airman was gay was if he suddenly disappeared, never to be seen or heard of again. There were military police whose duty was to seek out gays (word not used in those days) and kick them out with a dishonorable discharge. But only men; I never served with a woman. We are ready for and need change today.

I'm a veteran of two tours in Vietnam. I can't follow your thoughts here. The only thing that I will say is this. I would rather have someone that is gay stand up with me when the chips are down, than have a straight guy turn and run when I need him. With that being said, I don't care what a persons sexual orientation is so long as they do the job.

From basic training through discharge, I showered communally with gay troops all the time. Never once was I propositioned or did anyone try anything. I can't say the same for the raunchy horseplay of my heterosexual comrades.

When I was in the Navy we had so many openly gay dudes serving on our ship, the USS Jason AR-8 (now decommissioned) that we were known as the "Love Boat" of the seventh fleet. Our dental tech was gay and affectionately called "The Tooth Fairy" - another would sit in his rack and do his nails and other cosmetic improvements. Nobody cared. We were one family of men.

Back in 1970 I said I was a homosexual (and claimed many other problems) on my selective service forms. 1-A anyway. Enlisted ahead of the draft and served with more than a few gay soldiers. I didn't bother them, and they didn't bother me. Well... one *did* hook me up with a female friend of his, but that was a favor, not a bother.

Young Army dudes - let me tell you, nobody is better at introducing you to women than a gay friend. And your gay friends will *never* come on to your old lady, either.

(I say this as a long-married man who has had both gay and straight friends both in and out of the Army.)

My unit had two gay soldiers during our deployment. It was an open secret and no one cared one bit. At the end of the day what soldiers value most is professionalism and trust in the men or women next to them. The "unit cohesion" non-sense some are concerned about is a complete BC. If I recall my history lessons much the same arguments were brought forth before Truman integrated the military. Guess what: none of the dire warnings came to pass. None of them will now either (see Israel, Britain, Netherlands, etc). Soldiers are trained to follow lawful orders first and foremost, so the vast majority of them will do just that. The tiny minority who won't does not belong in the military anyway. Do away with don't ask don't tell.

I spent 14 of my 22 years in command, from platoons(5), to companies(3), to battalions(2). I as intelligence and had to make a decision based on the best interests of the unit and in the larger arena, of the Army.

I chose the "don't ask, don't tell" back before it ever existed. If I had thrown everyone out who I suspected or who told me they were homosexual, my units would have been in a crisis. I couldn't have done the mission. There's no way to gather the information and analyze it to produce intelligence, if you are missing large number of soldiers, beyond the usual lack because the training is so rigorous over 50% drop out before finishing the training.

Now start yanking soldiers out in the numbers the Army did between 1977 and 1997, when I retired, and the combat arms commanders would be screaming for information I had no way to provide in the detail they needed it in. So I pursued a not so unilateral policy of letting sleeping dogs lie. That way, my units functioned at a high rate of effectiveness, over and over. Homosexuality wasn't an issue, nor did any of my seniors, to include general officers who were my direct raters or senior raters.

Had this become common knowledge, I suspect I would have been offered the chance to resign or stand a court-martial. The change is coming, ADR Mullen has made it clear and SECDEF Gates agrees. There are sufficient younger officers in place now to nudge the policy into place, despite people like McCain. It's people like him that don't get it and create phantom masses of soldiers worried about being in the shower, etc, etc, etc. The fact is the military can't function without everyone, in a joint effort.

By the way, joint was once a dirty word because the purity of each branch of service would be tainted somehow by coming into contact with members of the other branches. Somehow we got through that, and through integrating women into the military mainstream, despite the squawking nuts from the far right.

This change may go slower at first, at take more time to complete, but as more and more senior officers and sergeants retire, the easier it will become. Interesting tool was used to help the integration of minorities and women into the military and enforce fair treatment, the performance evaluation. I guarantee if you add a block to include gays and lesbians to the equal treatment, "supports the program" , type comment, and officers don't get promoted or get removed from leadership positions, people will line up to toe the line, at least officially, at first.

OldSarge: As my user name implies, yes, I served and I retired. I served in combat units and support units. I served in tactical units and strategic units. I served with soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen of both genders and, yes, some of them were gay. Their sexual orientation did not impact their desire or ability to serve. They were all professionals.

We all volunteered to serve. None of us were drafted. I takes a certain kind of person to accept the military way of life. It is challenging--physically, mentally, and socially challenging. We enter service as individuals and are molded into a team that can overcome any challenge. This is just one more challenge. Our men and women in uniform are definitely up to that challenge.

Don't ask, don't tell is just plain wrong! It's very existence is an acknowledgment that gay men and women are already serving with distinction in the military, but we are supposed to ignore that fact. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary Gates agree with the President that it is time to do away with this fraud. They got it right in their testimony before the Armed Services Committee. It boils down to integrity. It's just the right thing to do. Just like Pres. Truman's desegregation order and the integration of the women's auxiliary forces into the regular forces. It will not impact the military forces other than ending the lie.

Soldiers already know what is important and they live by it. Do your job. Be reliable. Back each other up. Lives depend on it.

My nephew is in his forth year at the Naval Academy says that for most of his colleagues it's simply a non-issue (he's straight by the way). It's only an issue for the over the hill old guys.

Again, it is the straight soldier who is defamed by the homophobes — he’ll be “uncomfortable,” they say, and won’t want to do his job because of the closeness of soldiers in combat. One senator, a leader of the Conservative Coalition, put it this way: “There is no more intimate relationship” in the world than that of combat soldiers sharing a foxhole. “They eat and sleep together; they use the same facilities day after day; they are compelled to stay together in the closest association.” Therefore, the senator said, this kind of “social engineering” just gets in the way of the armed forces doing their mission and defending the United States of America.

The senator was Richard Russell of Georgia. The year was 1948. And Russell was simply explaining, in a completely nonbigoted way, how allowing blacks to serve with whites would undermine unit cohesion and military effectiveness. Because the white soldier would, you know, be uncomfortable and stuff.
— Russell A. Burgos, Ph.D., of Thousand Oaks served in the Army and Army Reserve from 1983 to 2005, including a year in Iraq

I spent 28 years in the USNR, now retired. During that time I knew of and suspected others of being 'gay.' During the Viet Nam era even though it was a no no, unless one was so overt the military looked the other way. Why, don't know for sure, but I would say they needed the men. The draft was in full force at that time. What did I see as a young 20 something........?? The same dynamics as in the civilian world. We were young and liked to party. Lots of that went on. Chasing girls. That happened when they were available. Those who were gay were accepted in the circle I knew. That was active duty. When in the reserves our private lives were private. When going on ACDUTRA [active duty for training] the change in atmosphere from Minnesota to wherever enabled us to party some more. Some hung around with each other, others went out on their own. Just like during the active duty days. When in the Philippines I was told of 18 corspmans kicked out for being gay. Apparently the INS was after drug dealers. The located one on an aircraft carrier at sea of all places. He made a deal with them that he would squeal on some 'queers' he knew if he got off. The INS [Investigative Naval Service] bought it, let this drug dealer off so they could kick out these 18 medical folks. Now that is tragic and sad. America stands for freedom and equality. It is written in our constitution. Some folks seem to forget this over their prejudices. Some argue that the military is not a social trial area. Well, if the military which represents the best of America can't treat its own citizens with fairness and equality, what does that say to our culture? The fear of 'gays' running around luring at their shipmates crotches or holding hands while in the corridors is plain fear mongering by the bigots. Their own fears to boot. It just ain't like that. Compared with the stories I have heard from the st8 crowd, nothing could be worse. I was well respected by those under me. My business is mine, and those who knew, were friends. I discovered my own sexual orientation possibilities while in service and matured. Many 'gays' pass for st8 not because of an act, but because that is the way we are. I knew of some feminine men in service and they were st8. And by the way, I retired as a Commander.

We need more Eric Alva's in the military and less of the hateful rhetoric of idiot Sentors like Texas' John Cornyn or DO NOTHING Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
I am a gay man who had the Air Force Academy appointment in high school and turned it down. I would love to have served my Country, but I refuse to be forced to lie about who I am and who I may love. My God made me this way and I am thankful EVERY single day that he did.

Seldom do we hear of the young artillery sergeant from Clarksburg who was fired despite having just won the coveted Soldier of the Year Award at Fort Sill, Okla. Nor the story of the young Iraq combat veteran from just across the Ohio River who held his Purple Heart against his chest and pleaded to be allowed to go back into battle and continue to serve.

If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don’t care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there.

I know one gay person who did join the Army in order to make a statement. He went Infantry soon after DADT passed in order to challenge it. He purposely was open about his sexual orientation and expected to be kicked out. He was surprised to make it to his Honorable. Turned out that his background as a Texan who hunts had more impact on his time as an Infantryman than his sexual orientation.


Back in the '80s there was an gay airline mechanic. (well, probably more than one) Everyone knew he was gay. He was never harassed, shunned or anything that might be considered insulting or degrading. Mechanics worked alongside him with - if not camaraderie - at least civility and the same friendliness accorded others.

On night the gay mechanic was working, lying on the floor in a particularly crowded area of the plane cabin and another mechanic said, "I'm going to have to get through here, I'll try not to crowd you." The gay guy said, "That's OK, I rather enjoy it."
The work environment was never the same. For the guy or the crew. He had made an unnecessary remark that crossed the line. And guess who felt wronged? The gay, of course!

They'll face the standard ostracism of being a unusual and poorly understood minority. Just like the wiccan supply clerk, or the LT from Tanzania. No one knows or cares why the Tanzanian says "Pants!" Every time something goes wrong, and his insistence of marking "African American" on forms just leaves numerous help desks befuddled and confused. The Wiccan still can't get a tattoo of a pentagram below his elbows, and has to tuck his pentacle under his shirt, just like the Christian next to him tucks in his crucifix necklace.

30 years in the military tells me otherwise. The UCMJ is fine for clear cut violations without a political component, but that's about it.

Case in point is the female that I was deployed with who we nicknamed "The Black Widow" because she liked to lead guys on, and then when they made a move she turned them in for harassment. Those guys were disciplined. She went on to have a series of "relationships" with numerous soldiers in the AOR. She even got caught having sex in the tent she shared with 9 others. Was she disciplined? No. Eventually she got pregnant and was sent home with her reputation intact. She probably told her hubby it was divine intervention and the dumb ass probably believed her. Why wasn't she disciplined? Because the leadership has determined that women in the military and in combat zones is a great success and Commanders aren't going to rock the boat. This is why you hear the leadership talking in the media about what a great success it's been, but when you go look at the statistics on females who get pregnant while deployed there is a disconnect.

Same story with the gay guy on my sub who liked to hang out in the showers. This was long before DODT. Everyone knew he was gay. Everyone knew he was hanging out in the showers. Was anything done about it? No.

The fact is Commanders don't want to have to deal with these kinds of messy issues. So they don't.

Personally, I believe gays and women should serve. Women should be allowed to serve on submarines and in combat roles. But lets not sugar coat the problems it causes.

Pointing at the UCMJ and saying it will enforce professionalism indicates a lack of familiarity with the facts.

I am former military officer who was responsible for assigning billeting and showering arrangements. I have one question for the people who are advocating that we allow gays to serve openly -- how do I billet them? This is not a rhetorical question, and I'm not asking it to be difficult; I really would like to know how we would solve this problem.

I had to assign people to 12-person tents when on deployments. I could not put men and women together, even if they were married. Do I put all the gay men together and all the lesbians together and wait for the sexual harassment allegations? Do I parcel them out? When at home, in two-person dormitory rooms, I couldn't put heterosexual couples together, but should I put two homosexuals together? What if one of them is enamored with the other but his affections are not reciprocated? Haven't I created a sexual harassment situation? What should I do when the two gay men that I've assigned to a dorm room together become lovers and then break up? Do I reshuffle room assignments to accommodate them? We do not billet heterosexual couples together for these reasons, but how do we work out the logistics behind billeting homosexuals, and to complicate the issue even more, bisexuals?

I am fully aware that I have on many occasions put homosexuals into dorms and showers with heterosexuals, and that really isn't a problem in my experience, even when everyone has known that an individual is gay; as some of the comments have reflected, homosexuals generally aren't interested in heterosexuals, and contrary to popular belief, military people are not all knuckle dragging, homophobic troglodytes. The problem isn't gays hitting on straights -- it is accommodation of sexual behavior, of all kinds, in an environment that often lacks any semblance of privacy without creating situations that foster sexual harassment. We are currently able to overcome this by not billeting men and women together, and by asking homosexuals and bisexuals to not advertise or act upon their sexual preferences. How do we overcome it when we allow homosexuals to serve openly?

Again, I'm not asking this question to be contrary -- I'd really like to know the answer. In my experience it's not solvable. And please, don't come back with "Canada, Israel, etc. have solved it" because they haven't. I served in NATO for a couple of years, and the militaries that allowed homosexuals to serve openly were struggling mightily with these problems. From what I saw their answer was to essentially create units that were homosexual "ghettos" and to treat homosexuals so poorly that they would get out at their first possible opportunity

Actually, that's not why there are no women on subs. You really should learn about what it is you speak...BEFORE you speak. The reason there are no women on subs is because there is no way for current submarines to accommodate mixed gender crews without extensive, and highly expensive, modifications. Our society is not ready to have the genders sharing bathrooms simultaneously. So, either the bathrooms (yes, yes, I know they're called "heads" on a ship - though, technically, a submarine is not a ship it's a boat) need to be assigned in shifts - highly impractical - or the sub has to be made larger to accommodate additional bathrooms - that would probably cost 50% of the price of a new submarine, assuming the cost of modifying the USS JIMMY CARTER for spec-ops by inserting a new compartment is any indication. My understanding is that the new VIRGINIA class fast-attacks were designed from the bottom up to make accommodating mixed gender crews possible, but the Navy's not about to integrate genders before getting the word from Congress.

Your arguments, silly as they are, could easily be used for surface ships - it's not like a frigate or destroyer has all that much extra room than a submarine. Yet, somehow, the surface ship Navy has integrated genders without mass orgies breaking out in the berthing spaces.

Most gay guys want to be in the fight, in one way or another. They want to bond. It's quite possible that it will continue to be the case that most units won't know who their gay members are until the gay guys know that they are trusted within the unit. They are still guys afterall (many probably just as ribald).

Maybe we're all wrong to think about this as patterned after female integration.

And as a general approach, rather than send everyone to "political PC school", it might be wiser and more cost effective to send gay soldiers to "harassment training", so they learn how to diffuse situations and deal with the remaining bigots effectively. That way, they can communicate to their COs in a few "program" words what is going on and the COs know right away the basic outlines of the problem and what's likely next in the "program".


Underground gay communities have emerged at bases across the United States and even in war zones. In Iraq, one e-mail group maintained by gay troops includes a database where soldiers post their instant-messaging screen names and the base where they're stationed. Dozens have profiles on gay dating sites, some posing in uniform.-WaPo primary reporting

I suppose there will now have to be pink floats in the Memorial Day parade.

As a result [of the different in service branch composition], [the Army] is likelier to focus on solving the practical problems of integrating openly serving homosexuals; the Marine Corps is likelier to resist symbols that place the individual's needs above the Corps', such as whether gay Marines can wear their uniforms in marriage ceremonies.

Are the services ready for two male officers openly, and in uniform, kissing at the O Club on New Year's eve in front of the rest of the cadre?

Will same sex marriages be recognized, to include dependent ID cards, spousal allowances, base housing, and medical coverage?

Will DoD officially define any other opinion as hate speech or bigotry? Punishable, perhaps, under the UCMJ?

I am serving military, having completed over 21 years in reg force uniform, excluding the years before that I spent as a reservist. The military has been a career for me, and I'm damn proud to wear the uniform and serve Canada.

I am also transsexual, one of the few people in the CF to have transitioned in uniform. I did not ask to be trans...it's just the way I was built, and not something I would wish on ANYBODY. Having said that, transition has been the best thing that I ever did. Transition in the military, however, did not afford me to go about it seamlessly. I damn near lost my career and my life because of it, not because of the way the System treated me, but because of the sheer hatred of my peers and superiors at the time. I still bear the scars of that treatment.

It bugs me to no end to see the sheer hatred that spews from so many people on this topic. It also bugs me to see the sheer ignorance people have about CF, generally and with regards to this and similar issues.


A bigger story about military buggery:

The US Army provided M-16 rifles that it knew jammed, lied about their doing so, American soldiers died/wounded, no one was held accountable - proof:
Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on the M-16 Rifle Program of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, Ninetieth Congress, First Session, 1967.

So why no outrage that defense spending is not cut, much less frozen. Obama makes a big deal that freezing non-defense discretionary wills save $250 billion over ten years, but the planned increases in military spending will cost $500 billion over ten years. Do we really need more funds each year to fight a few hundred terrorists than we spent to counter the Soviet Union?

What about this year's 3.2% pay raise while civilian wages have fallen and inflation is flat. New recruits earn over $38,000 a year, almost twice a much as comparable civilians.

Let me see Gates cut the military budget, then I'll be impressed. Right now he "bravely" manages who gets the increases.

There are gays in the military. 95% of them do their jobs, like everybody else. 95% of their peers either don't know or don't much care about their presence. As a commander, I knew one of my subordinates was gay and this person's orientation was never a problem.

The issue, and what should be addressed by whatever process Congress chooses, is how precisely to fix the policy. The question should not be one of orientation or tolerance. It should be behavior. Irresponsible sex is bad for good order and discipline. Taking out the "propensity" nonsense and moving to a straight forward "Good order and discipline" test, as in frat and adultery cases, would be the easiest way to do it. Sleep with who you like, just don’t do anything that hurts the mission. Take away the culture warriors on both sides and let us get back to work.

Its is amazing how much attention this is getting, compared with the shamefully high rates of sexual assault and pitifully low rate of prosecution for offenders. It is an outrage to dismiss service members for consensual acts while giving rapists a pass.

My own cynical belief is that the men who are most disturbed by the idea of gays in the military, and most vocal in opposition, fall into two groups: those who view themselves as predators and women as potential prey (the ‘you’re fair game’ types) and additionally view gay men as potential predators (because they assume gay men would treat them as they treat women)… and those who don’t want openly gay men in their unit because, at some level, they are afraid they’d be attracted themselves.

In either case, it’s fear—which is why it’s called homophobia.

Personally, I am a lot more concerned over the cells of right-wing Christianist extremists in the military than I am over who soldiers want to love.

Right now, women in the military getting pregnant to avoid deployments has reached epidemic proportions [I know this to be overstatement] and is degrading the military's ability to field the soldiers it needs to perform its obligations.

While we are on the subject of the ethics and judgment of Navy leaders, Salon has a good story about the firing of a psychiatrist whistleblower at the Navy hospital on the Marine base at Camp Lejeune. After the guy went to the inspector general (and isn't that what people are told to do if their chain of command is unresponsive?) about his concerns about disturbed Marines receiving inadequate care, he was fired -- and his most recent performance review was drastically revised downward, retroactively.


This has nothing to do with equality and fairness, it has everything to do with Godlessness and a lack or morals.----

Adm. Mullen, reflecting his Hollywood background, substituted emotion for logic.

please don't capitalize Homosexuals. They're not a separate race. They are not a people who come from the land of Homosexualia.

Stop with all the social experiments. Liberals are ruining the only well run section of our government.

23-year Army vet here....too bad they're dropping the Don't Ask policy. It might have caused some mental anxiety amongst military homosexuals, but in general worked pretty darn well.

If you believe He can help you in battle, you do not want to be disobeying him so openly. We--people of faith--believe that one of the reasons the Moslems have indeed been so successful in battle lately is because God likes the way they keep His commandments.

Gays. So repulsive. But that's my opinion, and that's what counts. Do I have gay acquaintances? Yes I do. But I still think it is repulsive.


...the Services only survive now due to competent NCOs. We are where the Brits were a long time ago, a Political-Gentleman Officer Corps with no real leadership at the top and a professional NCO corps holding things together