On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), held a hearing on the status of the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. The two witnesses invited to the hearing were Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense.
Sen. Levin opened the hearing by calling the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy “discriminatory”, then cited the popularity of repealing the DADT rule according to polling data. He noted that other countries have repealed similar rules without major problems, and expressed concern at the number of significant military figures, including linguists with skills in Middle Eastern languages, who have been lost due to the DADT policy.
Click here to watch the hearing in its entirety.
Adm. Mullen’s testimony was surprisingly personal. Rather than simply speak from the Joint Chiefs of Staff perspective, he expressed concern about the notion that people who wish to serve in the military have to lie about who they are in order to do so. Adm. Mullen also acknowledged that some disruption in the military’s overall lifestyle would be inevitable, but that thoughtful and thorough studies would be conducted to limit any problems.
After that, all Members of the Committee were permitted to ask questions, most of which broke down on party lines. Democrats universally expressed support for the idea of repealing DADT, with just a few asking Sec. Gates and Adm. Mullen about proper implementation of the potential new policy. The Republicans either opposed repeal of DADT outright, or expressed such strong concerns about the change that they effectively support retaining DADT, even if they did not explicitly say so.
As always, we will closely monitor any further hearings, bills, and other relevant updates on the DADT issue.