On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing for Clifford Stanley, the retired Marine general who has been nominated as the Department of Defense's Undersecretary of Personnel and Readiness. That is the position that oversees the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and will be tasked to implement its repeal—if and when that comes. Stanley served 33 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and became the Marines' first black regimental commander. He retired in 2002 as a two-star general.
Stanley did not provide much insight into his thoughts on DADT, which was one of the hearing's main points of inquiry. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, ranking member on the committee, said he believed the current policy is "working successfully" and "would be opposed to any attempt at modifying the existing policy." HRC Backstory reports:
Senator Levin followed McCain’s pro-DADT position by asking simply if Dr. Stanley would provide his best objective opinion over the repeal of DADT, to which Dr. Stanley responded with a simple yes. An opportunity to elaborate was provided with Senator Udall (D-CO), who asked – while noting gays and lesbians already serve in the armed services, and that thousands of gays and lesbians are civilian employees working with military personnel – if Dr. Stanley was prepared to support a push by the White House to include repeal of DADT in policy recommendations in the defense budget next year. Dr. Stanley didn’t quite answer the question, recognizing this is a sensitive issue and that he would be seeking input from all sources, particularly the service chiefs and military personnel “from deck plate to squad level,” and provide a recommendation to Secretary Gates. Dr. Stanley admitted he did not know what that recommendation would be, and will bear no preconceived notions as to the direction he will go in recommending action on DADT. Senator Burris (D-IL) asked what Dr. Stanley would do about pending discharge cases immediately upon confirmation. Dr. Stanley – correctly – responded that the pending cases would fall under existing statute, and that he was unaware that he would have any role in these pending discharge cases (he wouldn’t)."
The Servicemember's Legal Defense Network (SLDN) was disappointed that Stanley "punted" on the issue. SLDN's Aubrey Sarvis remarks: "When given the opportunity by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to support his commander in chief’s position to overturn the ban, Dr. Stanley did not do so. However, as is the case with most nominees, Dr. Stanley did not delve into any of the policy issues in his portfolio. We look forward to Dr. Stanley becoming fully aligned with President Obama on repeal."
Last week, Rep. Barney Frank suggested the DADT repeal would most likely be an amendment to next year's Defense Authorization. The Administration has not commented on that report.