New U.S. Marine Commandant: Keep 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' Robert Gates Urges Immediate Repeal
General James Amos, who two weeks ago succeeded James Conway as Commandant of the Marines, has a very similar perspective on "don't ask, don't tell" to that of his predecessor. Amos is publicly stating that he does not want the policy repealed due to a "possible loss of unit cohesion and combat readiness." He has made similar statements about DADT in the past.
The LA Times reports:
"There's risk involved," Amos said. "I'm trying to determine how to measure that risk. This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness."
In August, during his last visit with troops in Afghanistan, Conway repeatedly asked gatherings of enlisted Marines throughout Helmand province whether they thought unit cohesion would be harmed if openly gay people could serve. Almost unanimously, the young Marines indicated they felt it would.
Combat, Amos said, is an "intimate" experience without parallel in civilian life. "We're talking about our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers," he said.
Amos, 63, said he was reviewing the results of a poll of military members and their families about the potential effects of lifting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. He declined to characterize the findings. Amos said that, unlike other services, the Marine Corps requires many of its members to share rooms while in garrison. That complicates the issue, he said.
Meanwhile, reacting to last week's election results, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is not optimistic about the possibility of overturning DADT.
According to the AP, "Gates said Congress should act quickly, before new members take their seats, to repeal the military's ban on gays serving openly in the military." He added: "I would like to see the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are."