General John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997, was among those responsible for implementing the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule during the Clinton Administration. Since then, his views have changed. He now is among the vast majority of service members who say that gays should be able to openly serve in the military.
In an op-ed in The New York Times, Shalikashvili says it's time to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers...
I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.
Shalikashvili notes that if President George Bush is sincere in his proposal to dramatically increase the size of armed forces, the Pentagon will have to consider this measure. He also notes that 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, "let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems." Recently, many distinguished generals have also called to end DADT.
As we've noted throughout the past month, the American public—with the exception of Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman—does not support an escalation in our Iraqi presence. However, many experts do believe our troops are stretched too thin and should be augmented. Hopefully we can get to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once Iraq has been resolved.
More Gays and the Military:
Most Soldiers Support Gays (Rod 2.0) Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Hearings? (Rod 2.0) Fears of Escalation (Rod 2.0) News: McCain Wants More Troops (Rod 2.0) News: DADT, Maryland Hearings (Rod 2.0) News: Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Rod 2.0)