Political games in repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Terry Garlock's picture

I don’t know which was the bigger snow job – the winter storm in the Northeast last week, or the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) last month.

If you are willing to think outside your comfort zone, read on, but fair warning, my views on repealing the prohibition on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military just might alienate everyone on both sides of the argument.

At the outset, I will tell you that responding to divergent views with cries of “homophobe” will make you silly and irrelevant to me, especially since I am a loner among my Republican fellows in my belief that same-sex marriage should not be barred.

If I am repulsed by romance between two men or two women, why should my attitude control whether they are allowed to enter into the commitment of marriage with its attendant legal protections?

The repeal of DADT, however, is not only a mistake that sacrifices combat readiness to politics, it was done in a way that played the public like a fine-tuned fiddle.

Let’s start with some of the emotion surrounding the issue.

President Obama said (paraphrasing) after signing the repeal bill, “Now those who put their life on the line will no longer have to lie about who they are to serve their country.” Well, that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

When George Washington gathered the tattered remains of his disintegrating fighting force, many barefoot in that 1776 Christmas eve winter storm, and crossed the ice-swollen Delaware in a daring strike on the enemy in the pre-dawn Christmas morning at Trenton, he salvaged the Revolution with his outrageous plan and victory.

The men Washington led that night pushed themselves beyond any reasonable limit of exhaustion, hunger and exposure to wind, snow, sleet and rain. Were any of them gay? Maybe so, and every one of them deserve our gratitude.

On the bloody beaches of Normandy and across the wasteland of Iwo Jima, among the twisted bodies were probably men who had the secret of being gay. On the black granite wall with over 58,000 names of our Vietnam War dead, I know some were gay or lesbian, I just don’t know which ones or how many. Were any of the doctors, nurses or orderlies who cared for me when I was wounded gay or lesbian? I don’t know.

Many of you will nod your heads thinking these are good reasons to repeal DADT, out of fairness to gays and lesbians who have always been a secret part of our military. But asking about fairness is the wrong question.

Is DADT unfair to gays and lesbians? Sure it is, but there is no right to serve in the military; there are many classifications of people who may not serve. DADT is the grease that makes it possible for gays and lesbians to serve.

The real question, though, isn’t about fair, it is about what contributes to unit cohesion to make an effective fighting force. To see the difference, we must set emotion aside, but the loudest voices in this argument are chock full of the emotional appeal, and without one bit of understanding of combat readiness.

Consider the public cheerleading for repeal by that great military mind, Lady Gaga, who preached to crowds that gays and lesbians wishing to serve should be welcomed, and the Neanderthal homophobes who object should be drummed out of the U.S. military, because such insensitive attitudes should not be tolerated. Maybe you agree with her that small masculine minds must be made to be more tolerant.

What can be more masculine than testosterone-pumped men on the point of the spear killing people and breaking things when ordered to subdue the enemy by force?

These days the virtue of sensitivity easily trumps masculinity, which is slowly being squeezed out of our culture, and we men are to blame for letting it go too far.

How many TV programs consumed by our kids portray men as bumbling, slow-witted boobs in need of constant guidance from their women? Even the joys of kickball are being eliminated from school playgrounds since that game is too aggressive. Are we now uncomfortable there is too much masculinity in our fighting machine?

Much is made that the vast majority of the public favors repeal of DADT. Maybe so, but how much knowledge of preparing for combat is embodied in public opinion these days?

In about 65 percent of WWII generation families, the dad or mom served in the military. Think of it — over half knew deep in their bones what it means to fight an enemy with no assurance our side would prevail.

Today, when you factor out the WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans, by my measure less than 5 percent know what it means to serve in the military, including those making these decisions in Congress.

Even less than that know what life in combat is like, watching each other’s back, eating, sleeping, bathing together in forced intimacy. In extreme conditions our combat troops sometimes sleep tangled up in each other to conserve body warmth, just one situation where it helps for a gay man to keep his secret.

That is all that is required for gays and lesbians to serve: keep your sexual preferences to yourselves. Even outside of combat settings, that privacy helps make a fighting force work.

Marine Tom Neven tells of a formal inspection when a superior stepped in front of him to inspect his person and asked him quietly where he got his deep blue eyes. While standing at attention and required to answer his superior while staring straight ahead, he stammered, “I get them from my mom,” while the superior stared into his eyes a while longer before moving on. Tom says he knew what was meant.

I would argue that superior’s sexual inclinations are irrelevant if kept to himself, but when revealed become a disruptive issue. If that same superior was suspected of favorable treatment to a subordinate lover, trust and unit cohesiveness suffer.

In combat arms units, especially special ops units, openly serving gays is just one more complicating factor for them to overcome. Complications that interfere with unit cohesion will get people killed in combat.

Of course when you watch TV news you won’t hear these subtleties, you will only hear about fairness to gays and lesbians.

You also hear a lot about the survey of military people on the issue, but TV news won’t tell you about the holes in that process, either. No matter which side you favor, honest people should demand an honest process. I would argue this survey was political cover for repeal from the get-go.

Perhaps you are reassured by the unwavering support of repeal by U.S. Navy Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I am not, but I learned during the Vietnam War to be skeptical of officers at the highest levels who often become skilled politicians. While they took their orders from damn fools in the White House to impose stupid rules of engagement that got thousands of Americans killed in Vietnam, not one general officer resigned in protest.

What about the survey? It went to 400,000 of the 2.2 million who serve in uniform, but just 28 percent responded while 72 percent did not, meaning just 5 percent of those in uniform were actually surveyed.

Ask yourself whether those favoring repeal would dare miss their chance to submit their opinion, and in which direction you might expect a skew with the small sample?

You might also consider the contents of the survey. The crucial question of whether repeal of DADT is a good idea, the central question, was not asked. Rather, survey respondents were asked their views on the effects of repeal.

Proponents of repeal, like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, simplifies his bottom line as, “... a strong majority ... two-thirds, do not object to gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform.”

Maybe that’s a victory, but those who put national security as the first objective might find that other 33 percent to be of grave concern.

Gates, of course, was cherry-picking to get that number, so I’ll engage in a little cherry-picking of my own.

Question 68a asked about repeal’s effect on how the unit members would work together to get the job done. Here are the responses that expect a negative/very negative effect:

Army 31.9 percent, Army Combat Arms 47.5 percent, Marines 42.8 percent, Marine Combat Arms 57.5 percent.

A question about trust yielded responses nearly as bad. If this survey is to be taken seriously, anyone focused on combat readiness would consider these responses to be a huge red flag.

But the survey is for political cover, the fig leaf needed to convince you, the decent people in the public who don’t want to be unfair to gays and lesbians, that now is the time for repeal.

Actually, December was the right time, after the survey report was done and before Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives. That was the last possible window of time, as signaled mid-year when Gates suggested an early vote before the survey was completed wouldn’t be a bad idea.

You might argue this repeal doesn’t go into effect until 60 days after the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify in writing that implementation of repeal “is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”

But all three men have made clear their unwavering political commitment to repeal, and a few signatures won’t slow things down.

While the difficult task of keeping our fighting force combat-ready is even more difficult in today’s setting of sending troops on four or five combat rotations, the loud mouths with caring hearts cannot see the wisdom in letting those who fight make this decision. Unfortunately, it is being crammed down the throats of the service branches, with warnings against resistance already clear.

Looking forward, no matter what effect repeal has on combat readiness, the military machine will surely report good news to you on a successful implementation, because that will be the report required from officers down the line to advance – officers who please their superiors are the ones promoted.

The good men who now serve you faithfully on the point of the spear, in dirty uniforms, living in harsh combat conditions, doing things that would give you nightmares to keep you safe while you dream, might be quietly shuffled out of the military if they cannot embrace the new system, whispered about as knuckle-draggers by the reformers.

Personally, I’d rather keep the knuckle-draggers than the do-gooders shouting, “Homophobe!”

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City. His email is tgarlock@mindspring.com.]

Chris P. Bacon
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Homophobia vs. National Security

Between 1998 and 2005, 20 native Arabic translators and 6 native Farsi (Iranian) translators were discharged from the military for catching teh gay.

The contrast could not be more stark: What's more important to America in times of war ... homophobia or national security?

Terry Garlock's answer above is quite clear: he sides with the homophobes.

I seem to recall a younger, brasher Terry Garlock lecturing us around 2005 or so about how not supporting your country's national security in times of war was tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

AtHomeGym
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Fatback & Discharged Linguists

Don't know your source, but I doubt that they were all "native" linguists, but probably a mix of some native and Defense Language Institute grads. For whatever reason, there were lots of linguists discharged, not only Arabic and Farsi (which, incidentally is historically called "Persian", NOT Iranian (no such language). For whatever reason, many linguists typically thought of themselves as more intelligent than their fellow soldiers and conducted themselves accordingly. How do I know? Because I lived it for many years. And yes, I was also a linguist--but gained my language skills from first learning to understand what was said and then learning to repeat words & phrases to convey the same meaning. Being immersed in the language environment 24x7 helped. I then took and passed the necessary tests to be certified as a linguist (Army).

kcchiefandy
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The rapid spread of AIDS...

...in the US was/is directly linked to the promiscuous lifestyles of the male homosexual community; S.F. in the mid '70s has been demographically proven to be Ground Zero, with large secondary strikes in NYC and S. FL. As for homosexuals having sex w/ children and animals, that was never said; you are misreading. The point is once one sexual deviancy (actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms) is considered by some to be 'normal', then there is absolutely no reason other deviancies can't be 'normal'. It's simply the same moral degeneration(s) in this nation that will destroy it, as has happened to others in the past; this nation too, shall pass, although hopefully not in my lifetime.

NUK_1
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kcchiefandy: I don't know why I bother....

...but your ignorance can't simply go unchallenged.

First off genius, AIDS didn't exist ANYWHERE in the 1970's. The first reported cases of AIDS didn't happen until the 1980's.

Secondly, most HIV+/AIDS cases these days are of the non-homosexual variety and seem to also occur in areas where there are very few gays in the first place. I guess the gays are ahead of the curve now after watching how HIV/AIDS devastated a lot of them. Since HIV can be passed through non-sexual means, calling it some kind of "moral degeneration" is ridiculous. Does your dentist wear gloves because he's sure you're a flaming promiscuous queer with HIV or AIDS or is it to protect himself/herself and also to protect you?

People violating YOUR cultural norms mean very little to the world at large who have frankly moved to a more "live and let live" attitude than some fundie nonsense that tries to make some ludicrous claim that certain sex acts between consenting adults are in some way "morally wrong" and only sex acts the fundies approve of are "moral."

tygersilver
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Call me a troll and claim I have no info then you post this?

AIDS did exist in the 70's, it has been found in blood samples from the 60's! By the early 80's it's spread was rampant!

70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men, sad but true.

There is so much information available on this subject I have to wonder if you just made this up?

Now who is a misinformed troll?

NUK_1
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AIDS existed in the 70's? Name your source

Go ahead. Enlighten us all. Right here. Prove it.

Oh, do you mean maybe the HIV virus(which isn't AIDS) that existed WAY before the 70's or 60's and has existed in several species of monkeys forever?

tygersilver
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You are so LAZY!
Chris P. Bacon
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AIDS: since 1981

I looked it up and AIDS was first classified in 1981.

I wonder if it existed before then, as I vividly recall the first non-accidental death in my high school class was in 1979, when a guy died of Kaposi's Sarcoma. I remember it being referred to at the time as "gay cancer", and this guy was definitely gay.

PTC Observer
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Bacon

Definitely?

Chris P. Bacon
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Petey...yup
PTC Observer wrote:

Definitely?

Well, the guy got busted in a gay bar for underage drinking back in high school. Quite the scandal at the time.

PTC Observer
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Disclaimer - Bacon

Bacon, this is a disclaimer, I did not look this up on Google.

However, back in the early 80's when AIDS was first identified, I read an article in a medical journal about a disease reported among homosexuals in ancient Egypt. Seems that homosexuality was very much accepted, but the disease was called "stick men disease" in translation. The date was 4,500 years ago.

This brings up the notion that taboos are established by religion based on observed outcomes.

Chris P. Bacon
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Perhaps, Petey

re:observed outcomes.....one has to wonder then about what horrors that inspired Leviticus 19:19, the Biblical prohibition on blended fabrics!

PTC Observer
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How would you know Bacon

about the insidious and preverse world of blended fabrics?

Personal experience?

NUK_1
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Umm...YOU?

If u think that 70% of new infections occur in gay men, I suggest you get VERY MUCH better educated and also realize that accessing Google at your home is not a crime.

I'll go ahead and give you a chance here....show me one URL that proves that "70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men." It can even be from some retarded "Christian Identity/neo-nazi crap" or "Westboro Baptist Church" website. Go ahead, back that BS up for once.

You make claims with zero supporting evidence that most people immediately recognize as garbage and then run away when asked about where you get claims from. Now, put up or just shut the hell up.

I'll help you here...the highest number I found for new HIV infections was 53% from the CDC, which is surprisingly much lower than 70%, or do you realize that 70 > 53?

tygersilver
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I'll take that apology whenever you can man it up!
NUK_1 wrote:

If u think that 70% of new infections occur in gay men, I suggest you get VERY MUCH better educated and also realize that accessing Google at your home is not a crime.

I'll go ahead and give you a chance here....show me one URL that proves that "70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men." It can even be from some retarded "Christian Identity/neo-nazi crap" or "Westboro Baptist Church" website. Go ahead, back that BS up for once.

You make claims with zero supporting evidence that most people immediately recognize as garbage and then run away when asked about where you get claims from. Now, put up or just shut the hell up.

I'll help you here...the highest number I found for new HIV infections was 53% from the CDC, which is surprisingly much lower than 70%, or do you realize that 70 > 53?

70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men...

NUK_1
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Wow...really impressed there, tyg

You repeat the same exact claim you made before with no proof whatsoever besides your opinion of "70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men..." Awesome. I am sooo swayed by that.

Post the proof of that 70% statement already.

Chris P. Bacon
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Okay, I found the discrepancy on AIDS rates!

70% and 53% can BOTH be right!

Let me explain:

LINK

If you include the entire population (MALE and FEMALE) then the percent of HIV infections in gay men is 53% of all new cases.

If you just talking about the MALE population ONLY, then the percentage of HIV infections due to teh gay (as opposed to hetero contact or drug use) is between 70 to 75%.

See guys? You can both be right!

Now lets all go sing Kumbaya and roast marshmallows.

Chris P. Bacon
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Here you go, NUK
NUK_1 wrote:

If u think that 70% of new infections occur in gay men, I suggest you get VERY MUCH better educated and also realize that accessing Google at your home is not a crime.

I'll go ahead and give you a chance here....show me one URL that proves that "70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men." It can even be from some retarded "Christian Identity/neo-nazi crap" or "Westboro Baptist Church" website. Go ahead, back that BS up for once.

I saw the 53% one as well.

Here's a summary of a CDC report that claims male homos are responsible for 75% of new HIV infections LINK I went to the underlying CDC link but couldn't make sense of the statistics.

I won't vouch for the accuracy of the claim, but I did find one!

NUK_1
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Hell, I couldn't find the 75% either :)

Maybe copy-and-paste it for me :)

tygersilver
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HERE!
PTC Observer
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CDC - stats

"....but couldn't make sense of the statistics"

How much funding goes to the CDC?

Or did you mean "you" couldn't make sense of the statistics?

Chris P. Bacon
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Twas me...

I only had a single course in Business Statistics in college....those high falutin' concepts like chi-squares and z-scores are long-buried horrors I choose not to resurrect.

tygersilver
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I worked in HIV treatment...link below
NUK_1 wrote:

If u think that 70% of new infections occur in gay men, I suggest you get VERY MUCH better educated and also realize that accessing Google at your home is not a crime.

I'll go ahead and give you a chance here....show me one URL that proves that "70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men." It can even be from some retarded "Christian Identity/neo-nazi crap" or "Westboro Baptist Church" website. Go ahead, back that BS up for once.

You make claims with zero supporting evidence that most people immediately recognize as garbage and then run away when asked about where you get claims from. Now, put up or just shut the hell up.

I'll help you here...the highest number I found for new HIV infections was 53% from the CDC, which is surprisingly much lower than 70%, or do you realize that 70 > 53?

here is the website http://arcatlanta.org/

NUK_1
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That was easy

A) Where does it state on that website that 70% of all new infections are gay men? Help me out since I didn't see it. Maybe post a direct link to that claim from that website?

B) Where does it state on that website anything about new infections on this planet we inhabit being 70% from gay men? I of course realize you have no clue that most AIDS infections are not in the USA any more, regardless of where you claim to have worked, but let's see the proof. It's not that hard...you are on the one who posted the "70%" claim so back it up. Again.

It would have been much simpler for you to have instead posted some link to some neo-fascist site that says that "all them ther gays be spreadin; that queer virus." They see it as a 100%. Unfortunately, no one else involved in medical science does.

tygersilver
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Chris posted the stat

Really NuK? Chris posted the link for you, if you can't read and understand I don't know what else to do...

I don't make stuff up, I don't like the stat., I can't understand how it continues when we know how to prevent it, I worked to stop it!

Observerofu
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No tigger CPB did not--- you did!
tygersilver wrote:

here is the website http://arcatlanta.org/

Nuk and yes the rest of us with a couple of the usual exceptions would simply like for you to back up those statements.

tygersilver wrote:

70% of new HIV infections occur in gay men, sad but true.

Now who is a misinformed troll?

Those where your stats..

tygersilver
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I am putting MY personal information here

I worked for Dr. Melaine Thompson, founder and principal investigator of ARCA way back in the 90's...suck it

PTC Observer
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Tyger - be careful

on personal information, or you will find your finanical statements posted to this board.

tygersilver
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Bigots always start with "I'm not a racist/bigot, but..."

Then the inevitable "some of my friends are (fill in the blank)" and then the defamation begins.

"While the difficult task of keeping our fighting force combat-ready is even more difficult in today’s setting of sending troops on four or five combat rotations, the loud mouths with caring hearts cannot see the wisdom in letting those who fight make this decision. Unfortunately, it is being crammed down the throats of the service branches, with warnings against resistance already clear."

Since when is the military a democracy? Troops actually vote on which missions and actions they perform?

You manage to make "loud mouths with caring hearts" and "do-gooders" sound like dirty words and insults...what a jerk!

kcchiefandy
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That's ok...

...it's YOU that'll be paying for the increased medical care for their 'significant others' (inc. HIV/AIDS treatments, and yes, even servicemembers can serve while having it), housing & other benefits for the aforementioned, the increased man hours spent on expotentially multiplied sexual harrassment & EO complaints, the eventual inclusion of 'married' military homosexuals, which will subsequently bring about demands for invitro fertilization & surrogates so they can have 'their' children, and whatever else the homosexual front can politically force DoD to swallow. I await the day boy & girl lovers get this type of acceptance, instead of the bias & derogatory label of 'pedophiles'. Oh, and the Beastialists, because I have a Constitutional right to love & marry my dog; he's my best friend, and even though we're an interspecies homosexual couple, that's NO reason for you to deny me this right!

tygersilver
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equal rights are not special, but you are! Special-Ed
kcchiefandy wrote:

...it's YOU that'll be paying for the increased medical care for their 'significant others' (inc. HIV/AIDS treatments, and yes, even servicemembers can serve while having it), housing & other benefits for the aforementioned, the increased man hours spent on expotentially multiplied sexual harrassment & EO complaints, the eventual inclusion of 'married' military homosexuals, which will subsequently bring about demands for invitro fertilization & surrogates so they can have 'their' children, and whatever else the homosexual front can politically force DoD to swallow. I await the day boy & girl lovers get this type of acceptance, instead of the bias & derogatory label of 'pedophiles'. Oh, and the Beastialists, because I have a Constitutional right to love & marry my dog; he's my best friend, and even though we're an interspecies homosexual couple, that's NO reason for you to deny me this right!

This is the same old song and dance...all gay people have AIDS, molest children, and have sex with animals.

Since there are almost NO cases of lesbians with HIV they must God's chosen people!

Gay relationships are consentual and as such no children or beasts will ever legally enter into marrige!

Chris P. Bacon
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Slippery Slop

Ooooh so now gays in the military now leads to pedophilia and bestiality?

Slippery Slop Argument

bladderq
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Real Repeal

Much like other countries, the U.S.of A.was going to be brought kicking & screaming into the new era 21st century by the courts. I hope when the new Congress reads the Constitution aloud they include the Preamble & at least to the 14th Amendment.

lion
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gays and the military

Unit cohesion??

Threatened by integrating the military under President Truman but now not a problem. I served in units with blacks from inner city Chicago and whites from rural Kentucky and we overcame our differences and served our country together.

Unit cohesion threatened by women in the service. Not an issue any more.

Now unit cohesion is supposed to be threatened by gays and lesbians.

It is time the military put its bigotry aside. And those who cannot stand to serve with gays and lesbians should either follow orders or get out of the miltary service.

America deserves better than knucle-draggers.

DADT: We won't ask if you are a homophobe if you do not act or talk like a homophobe.

bladderq
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GAYS in uniform? OH, My

There is a difference. Before Truman there were no Black troops in integrated units. There were no women in gender integrated units. BUT there have ALWAYS been gays. There is no doubt that any has been hampered by drumming out of the service qualified people who wanted to serve. You think GI Suzy Q knew what the Col ask where she got her assets?

NUK_1
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Lady Gaga...seriously?

You mention her as if she has any influence/merit on this issue? Really? You think that our elected reps voted on this and had any care whatsoever about what LADY GAGA thought about anything? That's pretty desperate to prove some point that I happen to totally disagree with in the first place.

I don't in any way understand the gay lifestyle/orientation/thinking whatever since I'm not one, but I'm pretty convinced you are BORN that way or you aren't. Every fundie just puked right there and condemned me to hell. No worries.

So, kind of past time to accept these people who want to live/die for this country into the ranks of the military, IMO. I know there are all kinds of religious-oriented problems with this, but hooray for secular govt.

PTC Observer
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DADT - Garlock

The deal is done Mr. Garlock, getting politicians to revist this will be nearly impossible.

Now we will have to see how this policy impacts combat readiness and enlistments. This will happen in the practical application of the policy. You know what this will likely mean in a combat situation, in other non-combat roles it may be easier but I have my doubts.

So, my conclusion is we should try and see what happens. I foresee significant problems and people going to jail over this policy, but hey I could be wrong.

We will have the most powerful military machine on the the planet. It will be interesting to see if we have anyone to run it. An exciting prospect for our enemies.

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