Don't Ask, Don't Tell | James Amos | Military | News

Marine Commandant James Amos Suggests 'Distracted' Troops Could Lose Legs in Combat if 'DADT' is Repealed

Marine Commandant General James Amos is speaking out again against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, telling reporters in his Pentagon dining room that after reading and re-reading the Pentagon report he arrived at the conclusion that repeal of the measure would subject service members to dangers like losing legs in battle, because their combat-readiness would be "distracted" by gays serving beside them.

The Stars and Stripes reports: Amos

Ultimately, the voices of forward-fighting combat Marines who worried about unit cohesion in the Pentagon’s survey swayed Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos’ attention more than any other data point, leading him to recommend that Congress not repeal the law banning openly gay Americans from military service.

“Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives,” he said. “That’s the currency of this fight.

“I take that very, very seriously,” he added. “I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center, in Maryland] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”


On Tuesday, the commandant spoke at length about how he came to his decision in an intimate, hourlong session with a small group of reporters in his Pentagon dining room.

“This was not a flippant, rush-right-in preparation,” he said. “This was a very, very deep, thoughtful — I read the report, the survey over and over again.”

When pressed to explain exactly what a breakdown of “unit cohesion” could look like and why it would endanger Marines in combat, or the larger war effort, Amos said he was unsure but that the significant concern of breakdown was good enough for him.

Here's the audio.

Amos was the service chief most vocal about opposing repeal in hearings last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee. His gathering today appears to be a last-ditch effort to thwart repeal as it appears headed for a vote in Congress.

Shalikashvili Retired General John Shalikashvili told Politico that Amos' position is "“grounded in a selective reading of the evidence.” 

Said Shalikashvili: "General Amos has acknowledged that he is the only Service Chief who has not spoken to colleagues in foreign militaries about their experiences with gay and lesbian service members. Based on conversations with our overseas allies and openly gay U.S. Marines, as well my reading of the extensive research on the topic, I can say definitively that along with Admiral Mullen, I believe that repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' will improve the military rather than posing additional risk to the troops."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis strongly rebuked Amos' statements, calling on the White House and Pentagon leaders to bring him into line:

“General Amos needs to fall in line and salute or resign now. He implied that repeal will lead to Marines losing their legs in combat. Those fear tactics are not in the interest of any service member. The General’s goal is to kill repeal no matter the consequences, perhaps at the dereliction of his other duties. He had his say before the Senate and House. General Amos needs to stop lobbying against his Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. If he cannot do that, the President should ask for his resignation."

Servicemembers United also released a statement condemning Amos:

"General Amos's comments about the inevitable repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' are getting worse and worse. His commentary is moving from the realm of reasonable disagreement in the provision of professional military advice to hysteria-inducing absurdity on this topic that reflects very poorly on DOD and on the administration."

Gibbs White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to condemn Amos' remarks in today's press briefing:

"I think the President as Commander in Chief has a strong viewpoint. I think backed up by the survey conducted by the Pentagon as to the attitude of the men and women in our military that this can be done in a way that strengthens our national security, preserves the best fighting force in the world, and most importantly, does away with a policy that he doesn’t think is just...I think their views are very well known, just as the Commander in Chief’s views are very well known. I think if you look at the Commander in Chief, the head of the Pentagon, and the head of the Joint Chiefs, you’ll find unanimity in the belief that it’s time to do away with this policy and that’s exactly what the President is working to do."


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  1. His argument is plausible. After all he's apparently lost his mind after thinking about it too long.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Dec 14, 2010 5:09:15 PM

  2. If someone is in battle with bullets flying at him, and he gets, I dunno, just plain ol' DISTRACTED by a gay dude, who may or may not be eyeing him (but probably not, refer to above flying bullets), and he loses a'm not going to say he DESERVES it, but he's a pretty dumb sort and probably wouldn't make it very far in life before some other "catastrophe" got him. In fact, I'd be surprised if he even made it as far as a battlefield. Something about Pop-Tarts, a knife, and a bucket of water distracting him that morning after Christmas...

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Dec 14, 2010 5:20:39 PM

  3. Oh look something shiny...Sorry, where was I?

    Posted by: ned | Dec 14, 2010 5:30:09 PM

  4. Jesus. just Jesus. It's finally come to this. The transparent gobshite.

    Posted by: yonkersconquers | Dec 14, 2010 5:33:12 PM

  5. Hey, it looks like it might actually happen. After all, just thinking about repeal caused Amos to lose his brain.

    Posted by: jomicur | Dec 14, 2010 5:34:13 PM

  6. I'm only guessing here but it appears that Amos is simply trying to impress his "same-sex friend" McCain by discussing a subject they both like to think about AND talk about - alot! Perhaps they should just get a room and get it over with already.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Dec 14, 2010 5:55:22 PM


    Posted by: | Dec 14, 2010 5:56:27 PM

  8. Rank insubordination: he undercut the policies of the Commander in Chief, and this is hardly the first time.

    The fearless leader of the free world is plainly scared shitless by the leaders of the military, all the while forgetting that he is supposed to be the leader.

    Posted by: JusticeontheRocks | Dec 14, 2010 5:56:53 PM

  9. There's no danger from "distraction" because gay marines are ALREADY THERE in the USMC right now.

    What a moron.

    Posted by: Steve | Dec 14, 2010 6:15:00 PM

  10. I find the fact that this man in command of anything involving firearms or even sharp implements a little scary. I could see him being a real live General Jack Ripper with no trouble at all. Happily he doesn't command a wing of B-52's! But, I digress...

    As revealed by a previous poster, General Amos is a born again christian, a fundie nutcase who is clearly delusional about more than just his god. Sadly, there's a lot of that in the military, the evangelicals have targeted the military for quite some time and now have many indoctrinated officers in command authority. The Chaplain Corps is almost a defacto "political officer" cadre in today's military.

    If our Commander in Chief had any courage (something that I've not seen any indications of), he'd tell Amos to zip it or retire. But, it seems that the Pentagon is now a co-equal and unelected branch of the US government with little respect for civilian authority and the ability to comment publicly on state department initiatives and foreign policy as well as civil rights issues. We are really a friendly fascist state.

    Posted by: Bob R | Dec 14, 2010 6:16:58 PM

  11. I was in the Navy from 1985-1989, and had many encounters with Marines while on base in Norfolk. Of the sexual encounters I had with enlisted men while serving with the Navy, the majority were Marines.
    Where they gay? I didn't ask, and they didn't tell, but they were Marines!!
    Does this mean that the majority of enlisted Marines are gay, or that there are more MSM enlisted with the Marines? No. But they sure knew where on the base to go when they wanted to hook up with a guy.

    Posted by: Bobo | Dec 14, 2010 6:37:09 PM

  12. Does he have a brain!

    Posted by: Dani | Dec 14, 2010 6:38:45 PM

  13. he does not have a leg to stand on here -- he must be awfully distracted!

    Posted by: David B. 2 | Dec 14, 2010 7:29:29 PM

  14. *marine's under fire*

    Marine 1: We're under heavy fire. *shoots* We need an evac now!

    Marine 2: Calm down, we'll be fine.

    Marine 1: Are you thinking about how hot I am?

    Marine 2: What? No, I'm thinking you're panicing.


    Marine 1: My legs are gone! Help me my legs are gone because I was distracted you thought I was hot during a very dangerous and much more volatile situation than if someone finds me attractive like I'm in High School.

    Marine 2: Well, you were hot till your legs were blown off. You were a 10 and now you're a 6.

    Totally Plausible...I believe it so much!

    Posted by: Sean | Dec 14, 2010 7:36:43 PM

  15. This man was hand picked by Obama to lead the marines. That alone says it all about how serious Obama is about repealing DADT.

    Posted by: loki7329 | Dec 14, 2010 8:03:50 PM

  16. Funny how the only gay soldiers I've met were Marines. Too many homophobes with closeted gay attractions are trying to blame their own problems on everyone else.

    Posted by: X | Dec 14, 2010 8:34:10 PM

  17. You know what really causes more casualties? POOR LEADERSHIP.

    Posted by: X | Dec 14, 2010 8:56:09 PM

  18. Gates is playing both sides of the field. He is the one who appointed this man, Gates is also the one who orchestrated the polling of servicemembers and Gates is also the one who decided that December 1st was when they would submit the results of the poll to Congress (after the election, and in the lame duck session). Gates is also a conservative. Although he claims that he wants to do away with DADT, he seems to have done his damndest to put obstacles in the way!!!! At least that is how I see it.

    Posted by: CB | Dec 14, 2010 9:36:08 PM

  19. how can someone so profoundly ignorant rise to such heights? this idiot proves that "military intelligence" is a contradiction in terms.

    Posted by: nic | Dec 15, 2010 11:46:09 AM

  20. "ME THINKS THOW DOEST PROTEST TOO MUCH" APPLIES PERFECTLY TO THIS (OBVIOUSLY GAY) GENERAL. Based only on my personal experiences during WW2, I have always believed that the Marines had a higher percentage of Gays than the other services.

    These two Generals are trying to hide something.

    Posted by: Jerry6 | Dec 15, 2010 5:59:59 PM

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