Assault on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ from within our military

Iraqi sheikh with Dan Choi in South Baghdad
West Point grad, Arabic-speaker, discharged for admitting he’s Gay

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

In an unusual show of support for allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces, an article in an official military journal argues forcefully for repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which requires homosexuals in the services to keep their sexual orientation secret.

The article, which appears in Joint Force Quarterly and was reviewed before publication by the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that “after a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.”

Although the article, by an Air Force colonel, Om Prakash, carries no weight as a matter of policy, it may well signal a shift in the official winds. It won the 2009 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay competition.

Colonel Prakash, who researched the issue while a student at the National Defense University, in Washington, and who now works in the Pentagon, concludes that “it is not time for the administration to re-examine the issue.” Instead, he writes, “it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban…”

“In an attempt to allow homosexual service members to serve quietly, a law was created that forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of ‘equality for all,’ places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve,” Colonel Prakash writes.

I continue to offer my criticisms of the administration on one or another issue; but, this is a good example of the change in style resulting from the 2008 election. Bureaucrats – whether officially political or military – help to keep their jobs by watching which way the wind is blowing.

Americans have overwhelmingly moved beyond the religion/conservative axis to a better understanding of the world as a place with more flavors of sexual persuasion – and civil rights – than preceding generations would allow. The red tape brigade had better get on board or be left behind.

This even includes allowing “junior” members of the company to speak out. At this point in time, maybe khaki has more freedom than charcoal gray.