Palm Center responds To Former Air Force Official’s Op-Ed

Mcpeak The Palm Center has issued a scathing response to former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak's op-ed in today's New York Times about gays in the military. It reads in part:

Gen. McPeak claims that “advocates for gays in the service have by and
large avoided a discussion of unit cohesion” which ought to be the main
focus of the debate. This is simply false. There are at least twenty studies
from the last fifty years, many written by the military’s own
researchers, which find that gay and lesbian troops do not harm
cohesion. As an article published by the office of the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff concludes, “there is no scientific evidence to
support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if
homosexuals serve openly.”

"Gen. McPeak also claims there is no
evidence that troops will fight more effectively when the gay ban is
repealed.  In fact, research shows that the ban itself undermines
cohesion and readiness.  A bipartisan study group of Flag and General Officers which
took a year to assess all of the evidence on “don’t ask, don’t tell”
found that commanders in Iraq are ignoring the policy and choosing to
keep their teams together rather than firing loyal gay troops.  A
recent Military Times poll confirms that many commanders know of gays
and lesbians serving in their units, but choose not to discharge them,
suggesting that these leaders believe that known gays help rather than
hurt the force.

Finally, Gen. McPeak has acknowledged publicly
that when there is a tradeoff between pursuing moral values and
military effectiveness, he prefers the former, even at the expense of
the latter.  He opposed women in combat in the 1990s, saying he had
“personal prejudices” against expanding combat roles for women, “even
though logic tells us” that women can conduct combat operations just as
well as men.  He actually told Congress that he would choose an
inferior male flight instructor over a superior female one even if it
made for a “militarily less effective situation.” “I admit it doesn’t
make much sense,” he said, “but that’s the way I feel about it.”
Elsewhere he repeated that his position did not meet “strict evidence
standards for logic,” but that that did not change his position, a
direct contradiction to his claim that he seeks to engage in an
enlightened debate."

You may recall that the current Air Force Chief of Staff, Norman Schwartz, thinks repealing DADT is "premature" though Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley supports abolishing the policy.


  1. Bwana says

    I am grateful for Gen. McPeak’s service to our country. However, it is clearly evident that the reason why our military may be the best-equipped but the least effective is because of mentalities like his. “I know there isn’t any evidence to back up my claims, but that doesn’t matter. I just know what is right.” Fuck that reasoning.

  2. says

    Even as his Op Ed brags about the progress of racial integration in the military, McShriek’s preferring an inferior male flight instructor over a superior female echoes perfectly the statement in 1941 by then Marine Commandant, Maj. Gen. Thomas Holcomb that,

    “If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would rather have the whites.”

    A man with any decency or honor would crawl into a hole for the parallel—but McShriek is very proud of his homohatred.

    That, today, the “New York Times” would never think of printing an Op Ed by McPeak with parallel bigotry and distortions about African-Americans that they published about gays is yet further proof of the assertion over 20 years ago by Martin Luther King, Jr.s’ mentor, the late black gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin:

    “Blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new ‘niggers’ are gays. No person who hopes to get politically elected, even in the deep South…would dare stand in the school door to keep blacks out. Nobody would dare openly and publicly argue that blacks should not have the right to public accommodations. Nobody would dare to say any number of things about blacks that they are perfectly prepared to say about gay people.”

    Ironically, after being one of the coconspirators with Colin Powell and Sam Nunn in creating DADT in 1993, McShriek was a campaign cochair for Barack Obama.

    And, once again, the Palm Center is the lone courageous voice of uncompromising sanity challenging Pentagon bigotry while official gay orgs play appeasement games with them that would make Neville Chamberlain smile.

  3. JK says

    I’m so glad there has been a rebuttal. You can also write a personal response to the NY Times ombudsman, Clark Hoyt (at, and let him know (as respectfully as possible) that the NYT should have a higher editorial standard when it comes to pieces like this. At the very least, the “newspaper of record” should do the most rudimentary fact-checking on statements like those highlighted in the Palm Center’s counter-statement.

  4. Alan Reeser says

    Great rebuttal. Has anyone noticed he retired in November ’94 the year after he helped create the mess. It’s nice to know that at 74 years old, he can still maintain he likes the mess he created. In fact, most of the people in favor of DA/DT are in their 70’s or taking a dirt nap.

  5. Robert In WeHo says

    You have to understand that the modern air force has been hijacked by fundamentalist christianity. That’s why the Air Force Brass is opposed to the repeal of DADT, they’re all anti-gay religious zealots…

  6. Hue-Man says

    “Thus allowing an openly gay presence in ranks will be very difficult until we have committed leadership for it. I certainly had trouble figuring out how to provide such leadership in 1993. […] And since I didn’t know how to advocate the assimilation of this particular form of diversity, I saw no way to prevent it from undermining unit cohesion.”

    This reactionary blocked-headed approach can be paraphrased as: “I know everything about everything but nothing about teh Ho-MOH-sexles. This is too difficult and I’m afraid.” If this is the quality of the U.S. military leadership, the U.S. should exit the military power game and go back to raising cattle and chickens. Q: Is there a special quota of generals who didn’t complete grade school?

  7. Bojax says

    This is just another one of those issues we’re going to look back on in 50 years and say “God we were such idiots for making such a big deal out of this.”

    Why does a government, any government that is chosen to reflect the constantly changing needs and desires of the country it has been elected by have to be so rigid on policies that are archaic and reflect a time in history that has been widely accepted as being oppressive and unfair?

    How can honesty, acceptance and understanding ever make any military group weaker? Oh sorry, “Less cohesive”.

  8. Steve says

    Every time I read something about how gays would hurt unit cohesion, I remember what my good friend Dennis said before he left for his 3rd tour in Iraq:

    “If I’ve got someone watching my ass, I think it would be beneficial for him to want to fuck it, at least when it comes to my chances of getting back alive. Unless he was a necrophiliac… of course then he wouldn’t be gay, he’d be a freak.”

  9. DR says

    This is another out-of-touch upper brass who doesn’t remember what it means to be in the field.

    Of course forcing men and women into the closet hurts troop cohesion! How can I trust my mates if I have to hide and how can they trust me if I’m always hiding?

    A majority of soldiers acknowledge that this is a non-issue, it’s mainly guys who haven’t been in combat in decades and make admin decisions who are still clinging to this policy. And many of them have forgotten about that it’s like in the field.

    This is simple…. They are uncomfortable around gay men, and want validation for that ignorance. The troops who have served with gay men and women just don’t care as long as we do our jobs.

  10. says

    This ongoing discussion of whether or not open gay participation in our military will undermine cohesion is itself a problem insofar as it presupposes that increased cohesion equates to increased effectiveness. Certainly, it’s an attractive bit of “common knowledge”. However, literally dozens of sociological studies over the past 20 years have pointed to the disadvantages of high cohesion as it relates to effectiveness. This is to say, tighter bonds don’t necessarily mean better ones. Think groupthink, the Abilene Paradox, mob rule, bandwagon effects and informational cascading. Think about Abu Ghraib.

    Despite fantasy notions of perfect obedience in military culture, the truth is that decision making is a collective, social activity in the military, too. Getting along and going along don’t always produce the best outcome.

  11. Coco says

    Bojax wrote:
    {This is just another one of those issues we’re going to look back on in 50 years and say “God we were such idiots for making such a big deal out of this.”}

    One correction, Bojax,
    There is no “we”! THEY were idoits!

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