WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has determined that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would present little risk to military effectiveness and unit cohesion, and that 70 percent of service members also believe this to be true.
In a nine-month study released on Tuesday, the Pentagon surveyed 400,000 service members—115,000 of whom responded—on how to best proceed with the possible repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers. The Pentagon concluded based on the study’s findings that although a lifting of the policy might result in “some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention,” effective military leadership could probably render such an impact short-lived.
A majority of service members said they thought the results of the abolition of DADT would be positive, mixed, or of no consequence, and only 30 percent of respondents forecast negative effects if DADT was repealed. However, levels of support varied among different branches of the armed services, with the Marine Corps most opposed (at 40-60 percent).
The study additionally found that 69 percent of service members believed they had served alongside a gay man or lesbian in the past, and of those, an overwhelming 92 percent said that their unit cohesion was either very good, good or “neither good nor poor.”
The report, authored by the Pentagon’s chief counsel, Jeh C. Johnson, and Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, concluded that most of the misgivings about repealing DADT are “exaggerated and not consistent with the reported experiences of many service members.”
“We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war,” wrote Johnson and Ham, according to an early report by The New York Times. “We do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.”
The Times also reported that, “The study recommended no housing or living changes as a result of any repeal, which must be done by an act of Congress. The authors also quashed any suggestion that there should be separate bathroom facilities, [calling them] ‘a logistical nightmare, expensive and impossible to administer.’”