Recently, with the election of President Obama, the subject of gays in the military has garnered attention again. Currently, by law, the military follows the policy of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell, Don’t pursue.” That is, the military no longer asks potential recruits if they are gay, and if the servicemember doesn’t announce that he or she is gay, the military won’t pursue allegation that they are in fact gay. The application of this policy is of course, often flawed. There’s no such thing as a perfect policy.
I’m curious what my readers think of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Should we scrap DADT and go with a policy allowing openly gay soldiers to serve? Should we keep DADT? What are some of the practical problems with either option?
We supported the pre-DADT policy on prohibiting gays to serve. And we came to realize that DADT was not the end of the Republic.
Our concern with gays in the military has never been about gays per se. It has been about the ability of military units to form cohesive teams with high esprit de corps. This is absolutely critical to success in combat. It may or may not be fair to exclude gays from the service, but the military isn’t about fairness, first and foremost. It is about winning.
In our own experience, we believe that openly serving gays would have had a very disruptive effect on units and hurt the ability of teams to perform at their peak. The military serves under conditions that few other occupations impose. The close quarters of both garrison and field duty, let alone combat, mean that you are cheek by jowl with your co-workers not only during duty hours, but off duty time as well, to an extent that most people can scarcely comprehend.
Our service began almost a quarter century ago, and ended over a decade ago. It is quite possible attitudes towards gays in the public sphere have changed a good deal in the interveneing years. I see a lot of older folks decrying any attempt to allow gays to serve. I also see quite a few mid to senior NCOs and mid-grade officers with the same stance. But I’m seeing an increasing number of junior servicemembers who think the current policy is outdated and should be scrapped. I’m also starting to see some numbers of mid- to senior-level officers who think gays should serve openly.
We have an open mind on the topic right now. Our concern is not social justice, but what is the best way to fill the ranks with motivated servicemembers who can fight and win.
Now comes Argent, a longtime friend of our humble blog. He has a definite viewpoint. He is openly advocating for gays to serve openly in our military, and has started a blog to promote that. It is intended to be a venue for serious discussion of the topic, so please stop by and see what he has to say.
Argent, also known as Aaron, is an interesting character. He’s Australian, openly gay, and has never served in any military. But he is a robust supporter of the military, both his and ours. And he is self taught enough to have a good grasp of most military concepts, even if he doesn’t know the inner workings and the exact feel of the culture. But most interestingly, he also wants to not only advocate for gays in the military, he wants to give the gay community a better understanding of the military. He sees his task as building a bridge between what are essentially two separate cultures. As we have seen our task here as helping the public better understand what their Army is all about, we can certainly support the latter endeavor wholeheartedly, even as we are undecided about the former task.
So, where do you stand? Take the poll, and leave your comments. I’m interested in hearing from servicemembers of all branches and grades, of course, but I’m also deeply interested in hearing from the civilian community (it’s your Army, after all) and from the gay community. It’s an emotion laden topic for many, so I’ll ask that you please keep a civil tongue.