Friday February 5, 2010

Veterans, Former Army Legal Chief Defend “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2010 ( – A Congressional ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military has been targeted by top US military officials this week, but military veterans as well as a former chief of the Army’s criminal law division are striking back in defense of a policy they call both sound and essential to the health of the armed services.

The Washington Times reports that the United States’ two major veterans organizations have come out fighting against attempts by President Barack Obama and Congress to repeal the 1993 ban and its corresponding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, representing a combined force of four million military vets, told the Times that they did not want to see the military readiness of the Armed Forces – already straining to fight two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while maintaining its military presence in outposts globally – undermined by what a Legion spokesman described as “a new social-engineering project.”

“The VFW is fully aware that societal norms regarding homosexuality have changed since the 1993 passage of [the ban], but what is considered acceptable by civilians must not be blindly imposed on a military institution that the great majority of society chooses not to join,” spokesman Joe Davis told the Times. [Read the Washington Times article here]

Warning also came from a corner highly experienced in military sexual harrassment cases.

Richard H. Black, the former chief of the U.S. Army’s criminal law division, writes in the Washington Times this week that opposition to homosexual service is not merely rooted in theory – and supports his case by citing several incidents, some of which he dealt with personally.

One scandal at the US Army base in Ft. Hood involved a restroom advertised by homosexuals as a location for casual sex. Black said that investigators in the space of a week observed 60 men – including non-commissioned officers, officers, and enlisted men – commit serious public acts of indecency. He said the incident demonstrated how public homosexual sex “destroys respect for rank,” which can translate into serious consequences for discipline on the battle-field. “How would men respond to such officers and noncoms in battle?” Black questioned.

Black cited many examples that confirmed “[w]orldwide criminal reports document[ing] serious offenses being committed frequently by homosexual GIs.”

He cited one incident at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, where two homosexuals violently sodomized a fellow recruit they had accosted in the shower. During the trial, the victim needed psychiatric care in a hospital. Another incident involved male recruits having to subdue an Army homosexual drill instructor, who was attempting to rape another male recruit.

“Activists claim the risk of crimes from same-sex offenders is no greater than it is between servicemen and women,” writes Black.

“They are wrong. Women are not required to sleep and shower under the watchful eyes of men.”

Black, himself a former marine pilot who served in Vietnam, called the ban “an essential element of military discipline. It must be retained.” [Continue reading Richard Black’s full column here at the Washington Times]

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have been under pressure from the Obama administration to formulate plans for repealing the ban. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, both vocalized support for the repeal and end of DADT, and said they would begin evaluating how to phase out enforcement of the rule.

Retired Gen. Colin Powell, once a driving force behind DADT in 1993, lent his voice to the chorus of voicing calling for homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Homosexual activists hailed the reversal by Powell as a major coup and a sign that DADT was near an end.

However, Gates said that a military study on the issue would not be available until 2011. A delay that long could give Republicans an opportunity to take over Congress in the 2010 general election and stop a repeal.

See related coverage by

Colin Powell Throws Support Behind Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Obama Promises ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal