At yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey continued the parade of military officers before lawmakers going back and forth about whether Don’t Ask Don’t Tell should be repealed, how to repeal it, and whether Sen. John McCain needs a good talking to. (Okay, we made the last one up.) But McCain continued his rampage against armed services brass jumping the gun on DADT, before that awesome review is made available, and locked eyes with McHugh (pictured, left), quizzing him on whether even a moratorium on DADT dismissals is worthwhile. We already know how McHugh answered: don’t do it. But why?
Because the DADT dismissals-in-progress “would be greatly complicated” by a moratorium, he told McCain and his colleagues. “We have Lt. Choi in New York, for example. I’m just saying it would bring a lot of legal complications to the circumstances.”
Indeed, the reason for not issuing even a moratorium on DADT dismissals is because it would be, like, hard!, you guys. Think of all the papercuts involved with shuffling all those documents around!
Yes, that’s sarcasm in our voice, but understand what this means: The Army’s leaders would prefer to not deal with the “complicated” legal matters of dismissals than allow competent, talented, and trained soldiers remain within the ranks. We respect these men very much. They perform meaningful jobs and make difficult decisions that are, literally, matters of life and death.
But this isn’t leadership. This is cowardice.
UPDATE: At this morning’s House hearings, Navy chief Adm. Gary Roughhead joined his fellow military heads and said a moratorium would be “extremely confusing” but, in his “personal view,” a DADT repeal should move forward.
(NB: McHugh, a congressman from New York before becoming Army secretary, represented the district that included Fort Drum; Choi served in Iraq with Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum.)