By Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – “Over these last two months, the Chiefs and I have reviewed the fundamental premises behind ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ as well as its application in practice over the last 16 years. We understand perfectly the President’s desire to see the law repealed and we owe him our best military advice about the impact this change in policy would have on the military.
“While the Chiefs and I have not developed our advice, we believe that any implementation plan for a policy permitting homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed. The review group to be headed by Mr. Jeh Johnson and General Carter Ham will no doubt give us that time and an even deeper level of understanding.
“My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.
“I also believe the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change, but I do not know this for a fact. I will not deny that during a time of two wars, such a major policy change will cause some disruption in the force. It also seems plausible that there will be legal, social, and perhaps even infrastructure changes to be made. These are some of the issues our review will address.
“But we would do well to remember that this is not an issue for the military leadership to decide. The current law and policy came from the American people through their elected officials. We will continue to obey that law, and we will obey whatever legislative and executive decisions come out of this debate.
“With Afghanistan, Iraq, and significant security commitments around the globe, our plate is very full. While I believe this is an important issue, I also believe we need to be mindful as we move forward of other pressing needs in the military. What our young men and women and their families want, what they deserve, is that we listen to them and act in their best interests.
“Balance and thoughtfulness is required. It’s what the President has promised us, and it’s what we ask of Congress as this debate moves forward.”