At Friday’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hearings before the House Armed Services Committee — a chance for Pentagon officials to taunt Republican lawmakers with the impending doom of openly gay servicemembers — we learned that some 200,000 troops, or nine percent of American forces, have been trained on how to handle showering with a gay. The whole training exercise could be wrapped up by summer’s end, which worried Republican representatives. And for good reason!
But Republicans on the House subcommittee, especially those who were elected last November, argued the repeal was a mistake when the nation was involved in three wars — Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. “We are now looking at a behavior and we are trying to conform the military to a behavior,” said Rep. Allen West, R-Fla [pictured].
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., asked how the new policy would improve readiness of the military. Stanley said it was too early to tell, but added: “We do know from an integrity standpoint that we won’t have members lying about who they are.” That didn’t satisfy Hartzler, who said the mission of the military is to win wars and “I’m very concerned that in a time of war … that we are making such a radical major shift in our policy.”
Two-term Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said he had no confidence in the repeal process. “I think this is a political decision obviously made by the executive branch and the military will follow it under whatever circumstances and ramifications it has to the combat effectiveness to our forces,” he told Stanley.
Freshman Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., questioned how much money the Pentagon was taking from war fighting to spend on training for the new policy. Gortney said it was $10,000, a minor amount when the Pentagon spends hundreds of billions annually. Scott, who found the amount hard to believe, remained opposed to repeal. He said service members would not re-enlist, with the military and country losing “because of this social policy.”
Rep. West, meanwhile, is a 22-year Army veteran. And he knows what’s best for America’s military: Letting the people vote on what type of military spending needs to go. Because that, friends, is something every citizen should have a say in.