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Watch: Defense Sec'y Gates Tells Troops in Iraq They Will Notice Little Change Following 'DADT' Repeal


The service chiefs weren't the only officials addressing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal today. On his trip to Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told troops that they would notice little change following repeal of 'DADT'.

Said Gates during a question and answer session: "My guess is you won't see much change at all, because the whole thrust of the training is you're supposed to go on treatin' everybody like you're supposed to be treatin' everybody now — with dignity, respect, and discipline.


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Gates Instructs Defense Dept. to Accelerate 'DADT' Repeal

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants training to begin as soon as possible, and has ordered the Defense Department to accelerate the steps it will take to reach that point, Stars and Stripes reports:

Gates Gates in a Pentagon press conference revealed a three-step plan: finalize changes in related regulations and policies, and get clearer definitions on benefits; prepare training materials for chaplains, lawyers, commanders and troops; and then begin to train servicemembers worldwide.

“We’re trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible,” Gates said, adding he has instructed Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley to accelerate his efforts. “My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people. And we will do that as expeditiously as we can.”

Still, Joint Service Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen said it was still not safe for troops to come out. Said Mullen: "We certainly are focused on this and we won’t dawdle.”

Watch the press conference, AFTER THE JUMP...

(clip via think progress)

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In DADT Report Writer's Family History, Shades Of Today

Jehjohnson Big names like Sen. John McCain, Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates dominated Don't Ask, Don't Tell news stories last week, leaving one important man largely in the shadows, Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department's general counsel and co-writer of the Pentagon's pivotal repeal report.

Reporter Elisabeth Bumiller recently sat down with Johnson, and in today's New York Times offers some familial background to the lawyer's current work.

That background, peppered with racial discrimination in the military, helps illuminate how a DADT repeal would work today.

In addition to touching on Johnson's work as Air Force counsel under the Clinton Administration, and the fact that he was the first black partner at his former law firm, Bumiller reveals that Johnson's grandfather was a Tuskegee Airman -- African-American pilots who flew in World War II --  imprisoned for ten days after participating in the Freeman Field Mutiny, a 1945 protest in which black airmen tried to cross the racial lines at a whites-only officers' club. President Truman integrated the troops three years later, in 1948.

While Johnson makes clear that anti-gay and racist discrimination are different, with race being far more obvious and therefore a "self-identifier," he does tell Bumiller that there are many parallels between an armed force segregated by color and one segregated by sexuality, particularly with regard to our military's collective ability to conform.

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Watch: Defense Sec'y Gates Remarks on Pentagon 'DADT' Report


In case you missed our earlier LIVE coverage of the Pentagon press briefing on today's 'DADT' report, here are some highlights from Defense Secretary Robert Gates assessment of the study (via The Wonk Room), in which he practically pleads with Congress to repeal the law before the courts do it for them.

Gates also said this of his personal support for repeal:

"One of the things that is most important to me is personal integrity. And a policy and a law that in effect requires people to lie gives me a problem. We spend a lot of time in the military talking about integrity and honor and values. Telling the truth is a pretty important value in that scale. It’s a very important value and so for me…A policy that requires people to lie about themselves somehow seems to me fundamentally flawed."


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Gates, Mullen to Discuss Pentagon DADT Report with Congress

Read the AP's prelude to today's release of the Pentagon report:

Military Officials familiar with the 10-month study's results have said a clear majority of respondents don't care if gays serve openly, with 70 percent predicting that lifting the ban would have positive, mixed or no results. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings hadn't been released. 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, who have both said they support repealing the law, were scheduled to discuss the findings with Congress Tuesday morning and with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

What to expect:

Democrats and gay rights groups counter that the study finally proves what they've known anecdotally for years: Most troops would accept an openly gay person in their units.

"It's what we expected. The atmosphere in the active-duty has changed," said a gay Air Force officer and co-founder of the advocacy group OutServe. The officer uses the pseudonym "JD Smith" to protect his identity.

The survey is based on responses by some 115,000 troops and 44,200 military spouses to more than a half million questionnaires distributed last summer. The study group, led by Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham, also visited various military bases and held town hall-style meetings with service members.

In Letter, John McCain Begged Defense Sec'y Gates to Hold Troop Referendum on Letting Gays Serve Openly

A letter written in September 2010 to Defense Secretary Gates by Senator John McCain reveals that McCain urged Gates to modify the Pentagon troop survey so that it would ask the troops whether the ban on gays serving openly should be lifted and not on how to implement a repeal, the Wonk Room reports:

Mccain Begged McCain:

"I urge you and Admiral Mullen to modify the review and the survey instrument, or to conduct supplemental surveys, aimed at ensuring that the question of whether the DADT policy should be changed is answered."

Gates responded to McCain that it would be unwise to put such issues to a popular vote.

Wrote Gates: "I do not believe that military policy decisions — on this or any other subject — should be made through a referendum of Servicemembers."

Added Gates: "The Chairman and I fully support the approach and the efforts of the working group, as do the Service Chiefs. We are confident that the working group’s report will provide us with the information we need to appropriately advise the President, and, if requested to do so, to provide our fully informed views to Congress as it considers legislative action."

Read McCain's letter HERE and Gates' response HERE.


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