General Shalikashvili responds to letters from Military Chiefs
May 26th, 2010
General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997 when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was implemented, has responded to letters released earlier today from Military Chiefs who objected to the compromise worked out between the President, Congress, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense.
Dear Senators Levin and Lieberman,
I have reviewed the letters sent by the Service Chiefs today to Senator McCain and Representative McKeon. While I fully agree that Congress should take no action that usurps the Pentagon’s evaluation process and recommendations, there is nothing in those letters that gives Congress any reason to delay enacting the legislative compromise that was proposed this week.
The legislative compromise fully and affirmatively respects the Working Group process. The Working Group has been tasked with contingency planning to determine how best to implement a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Unless Congress repeals 10 U.S.C. § 654, the Pentagon will be powerless to implement the Working Group’s recommendations.
Furthermore, the proposed implementation and certification requirements contained in the legislative compromise ensure that the views of Service members and their families will be respected and given full weight in determining how best to implement this shift in policy. In short, it is not only preferable, but essential, that 10 U.S.C. § 654 be repealed in order for the Service Chiefs to retain the very authority they require to do their jobs effectively.
What do past Military leaders say about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?
February 16th, 2010
Those who are desperately looking for an excuse to continue supporting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the anti-gay military policy, are trying to downplay the efforts of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense as being an anomaly. They remind the public that the call for the repeal of a ban on open gay service men and women is their “individual opinion” and act as though it is non-representative.
But Admiral Mullen is not the only person to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Robert Gates is not our first Secretary of Defense. Nor are they the first to weigh in on this issue.
Not all such military leaders have public statements. And some have positions that can only be deduced from indirect statements. But here is what I’ve found:
Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Michael Mullen
10/1/07 – present
Called for repeal
- Peter Pace
10/1/05 – 9/30/07
- Richard B. Myers
10/1/01 – 9/30/05
Position unknown, perhaps opposed
- Hugh Shelton
10/1/97 – 9/30/01
- John Shalikashvili
10/25/93 – 9/30/97
Called for repeal
- David Jeremiah
10/1/93 – 10/24/93
- Colin Powell
10/1/89 – 9/30/93
Secretaries of Defense
- Robert Gates (R)
12/18/06 – present
Called for repeal
- Donald Rumsfeld (R)
1/20/01 – 12/18/06
- William Cohen (R)
1/24/97 – 1/20/01
Called for repeal
- William Perry (D)
2/3/94 – 1/24/97
- Leslie Aspin (D)
1/21/93 – 2/3/94
- Dick Cheney (R)
3/21/89 – 1/20/93
It would appear that Mullen and Gates are closer to the rule than to the exception.
Shalikashvili says the time is now
January 27th, 2010
General John Shalikashvili was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997. As such he was largely responsible for implementing the Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell policy.
In January 2007, General Shalikashvili wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in which he state that he no longer believes that open service from gay men and women would undermine the efficacy of the armed forces and proposed that the policy should be given serious reconsideration. But he was hesitant about the timing.
But if America is ready for a military policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, the timing of the change should be carefully considered. As the 110th Congress opens for business, some of its most urgent priorities, like developing a more effective strategy in Iraq, share widespread support that spans political affiliations. Addressing such issues could help heal the divisions that cleave our country. Fighting early in this Congress to lift the ban on openly gay service members is not likely to add to that healing, and it risks alienating people whose support is needed to get this country on the right track.
By taking a measured, prudent approach to change, political and military leaders can focus on solving the nation’s most pressing problems while remaining genuinely open to the eventual and inevitable lifting of the ban. When that day comes, gay men and lesbians will no longer have to conceal who they are, and the military will no longer need to sacrifice those whose service it cannot afford to lose.
Last June, he reiterated his belief that the policy should be changed “with proper timing”. (Wathington Post)
While the proper timing of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” remains uncertain, it is evident to me that a policy change is inevitable. More than three-quarters of the public favors the change. Polls show that even a majority of Republicans support allowing openly gay people to serve. Within the military, the climate has changed dramatically since 1993. Conversations I’ve held with service members make clear that, while the military remains a traditional culture, that tradition no longer requires banning open service by gays. There will undoubtedly be some teething pains, but I have no doubt our leadership can handle it.
He stated that the change was inevitable and that officers should begin preparing troops for that eventuality.
Now it seems that General John Shalikashvili has found the right time:
As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline.
American Family Association Picks Up The “Ailing General” Theme
January 5th, 2007
Conservative military watchdog Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) says she believes pro-homosexual activists are using an ailing former U.S. Army general [John Shalikashvili] to push their agenda in the hopes of overturning the ban enacted by Congress on homosexuals serving in America’s armed forces… Donnelly notes that Shalikashvili has in the last year or so suffered a debilitating stroke and is, in her words, “struggling to retain his health.” She says it is “really sad” to see someone like the general being used by the homosexual propaganda machine as “the latest tool of a public relations campaign.”
You can read Gen. Shalikashvili’s op-ed piece for yourself. Both Focus and AFA are now dismissing his stance as the ramblings of an “ailing general” who has become a “tool” for homosexual activists. It looks like this will be the agreed-upon theme for the day. Expect to see more of the same.
Focus on the Family’s Reaction to Gen. Shalikashvili
January 5th, 2007
Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, who retired as Charmian of the Joint Chiefs in 1997, says he supported the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which bans gays serving in the military when it was enacted in 1993. Now he says it’s time to rethink that policy:
Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers…
I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.
Gen. Shalikashvili cited the same Zogby poll we reported on earlier, which shows that only 37% opposed gays and lesbians serving in the military, and of those who said they were certain that a member of their unit was gay or lesbian, 64% didn’t believe it hurt their unit’s morale.
How did Focus on the Family react to Gen. Shalikashvili’s op-ed?
Military analyst and retired Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis said the general’s flip-flop appears to be motivated, at least in part, by lobbying from homosexual activists who may be trying to take advantage of Shalikashvili as he recovers from a stroke.
“I just believe he’s being used by those that want to use this as a political mechanism to pry open the military and to use it for their own social experimentation,” Maginnis said.
Gen. Shalikashvili’s stand doesn’t strike me as one taken by a wobbly, feeble-minded invalid. It’s a brave stand, a principled one driven by personal conversations, clear evidence that gays and lesbians won’t hurt morale, and concern over a military stretched thin in two wars. In contrast, Focus on the Family’s reaction didn’t come from any of those things, so they went with the only thing left: conspiracy theories and unwarranted attacks on Gen. Shalikashvili’s intelligence and fortitude. Which of these do you think are the hallmarks of the better argument?