When it came time to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, President Obama gave the U.S. military leaders a lesson in who’s commander-in-chief. According to a new report from Buzzfeed, Obama made it clear to the heads of the five military branches that they could either accept his decision or resign.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp revealed that Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. “We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp recalls in a video obtained by Buzzfeed. “I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that’s private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn’t agree with it — if any of us didn’t agree with it — we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things.”
Papp, who is retiring in May, says he agreed with the decision, but he sounds a bit more ambivalent in the Q&A session with Coast Guard cadets that is captured on tape. Asked how officers should respond to regulations with which they “disagree morally,” Papp refers to himself as an example. It was fine to “not be thrilled” with a regulation, but officers had to enforce it if they don’t “see anything terribly wrong with it.”
For the record, none of the branch leaders resigned with the repeal of DADT, but judging by Papp’s remarks, they weren’t exactly turning handsprings down the halls of the Pentagon either.