US Army leaders express concern over suspending Don't Ask, Don't Tell

[JURIST] US Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. [official profile, PDF] said Tuesday that he would not support a moratorium on discharging individuals from the military pursuant to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy while Congress conducted a review of the practice. Casey, the highest-ranking officer in the US Army, made the statement while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] regarding the 2011 Defense Authorization Request. When asked by Committee Chairperson Carl Levin (D-MI) if he would oppose such a moratorium, Casey expressed concern [committee webcast] that a moratorium would complicate the process of reviewing the policy, adding, "we would be put in the position of implementing [a repeal] while we were studying it." Secretary of the Army John McHugh [official profile] also testified, saying that the Department of the Army would not object to such a moratorium if passed by Congress, despite potential legal issues regarding ongoing discharges, but that his personal preference would be to not have a moratorium. Leaders from the Department of the Navy is scheduled to testify [hearing calendar] before the Armed Services Committee on Thursday, and they will likely face similar questions.

Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates [official profile] announced the creation of a panel [JURIST report] to study the effects of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and to provide a plan for implementing such a repeal. That same day, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen announced his support [NYT report] for repealing the policy. The possible change in policy has been an important issue for President Barack Obama, highlighted by its inclusion in the State of the Union address in January. Last month, Admiral Mullen's legal advisers suggested [JURIST report] that he delay any internal efforts to repeal the policy until 2011. In October, Obama pledged [JURIST report] to end the controversial policy.

 

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