25 March 2010

Pentagon announces changes in the way "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is implemented

Today U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced changes in the way America's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is implemented.

"I have approved a serious of changed to the implementation of the current statute. They were developed with full participation of the department's senior civilian and military leadership, and the changes are unanimously supported by Chairman Mullen, Vice Chairman Cartwright and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff." said Gates.

The changes include:
  • Only a general or flag officer may separate an enlisted member believed at the conclusion of an investigation to have engaged in homosexual conduct. Under previous policy, a colonel -- or for a captain in the Navy and Coast Guard – could order separation.
  • A revision in what’s needed to begin an inquiry or a separation proceeding. Information provided by a third party now must be given under oath, “discouraging the use of overheard statements and hearsay,” Gates said.
  • Certain categories of confidential information -- such as information provided to lawyers, clergy and psychotherapists -- no longer will be used in support of discharges. Information provided to medical personnel in furtherance of treatment, or to a public-health official in the course of seeing professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse also is excluded, as well as information obtained in the process of security-clearance investigations, in accordance with existing Pentagon policies.
A transcript of Gates' remarks can be found here.

DADT is still being reviewed by the DoD for possible repeal by Congress. The terms of reference for the review can be found here.

The Pentagon’s chief attorney, Jeh Johnson, and Army General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, head Gates’ working group charged with studying the potential implications of the law’s repeal. The panel will report its findings by 1 December 2010. The group will spend the next several months traveling to military installations to learn how servicemembers and families will react to a potential repeal. DoD issued this press release last month on the appointment of the review panel.

Chairman of the JCS, Admiral Mullen, has a blog on DADT.

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