While the Pentagon loses millions by dismissing well-trained gay soldiers because of their sexuality, they’ve also been spending money — since 1957 — researching whether gay soldiers have any effect on military preparedness. And the resounding answer? From the military’s own research? NO.
That’s what Col. Om Prakash’s much-buzzed-about article in this month’s Joint Force Quarterly reveals, notes Shauna Miller in The Atlantic. Looking at more than five decades of the American military’s own delving into the issue:
The DoD has funded studies on the impact of gay servicemembers as far back as 1957, when the Navy’s Crittenden Report found “no factual data” to support the idea that they posed a greater security risk than heterosexual personnel. Straight officers boasting secrets due to “feelings of inadequacy” were a realer threat, it found. Despite these findings, the report recommended no changes to dismissal policies, for a reason that would define the department’s stance on open service into the 21st century: “The service should not move ahead of civilian society nor attempt to set substantially different standards in attitude or action with respect to homosexual offenders.”
In 1988, the Defense Personnel Security Research Center — a DoD agency — conducted its own study on gay soldiers to determine whether their service under current policies created security risks, for instance in terms of blackmail. It also discussed, based on the military and wider social data available, whether the military’s policies were sustainable. The study returned again and again to the facts of conduct: “Studies of homosexual veterans make clear that having a same gender or an opposite-gender orientation is unrelated to job performance in the same way as is being left or right-handed.”
[…] The [Government Accountability Office] report itself turned a harsh light on the DoD. It found that existing policy was “based solely upon concerns about homosexuality itself,” and criticized the department for not conducting hard research to support its practices. “In addition,” the report said, “professional psychiatric, psychological, sociological associations and other experts familiar with the research conducted on homosexuality in general disagree with the basic rationale behind DoD’s policy.”
The latest data Prakash cites comes from a 1993 RAND Corp. study commissioned under President Clinton to determine a “practical” strategy on gays in the military. It pulled together the broadest range of data, including opinion of active-duty officers and attitudes of foreign militaries with openly gay servicemembers. Its straightforward conclusion supported the previous 40 years of findings: Policy should set equal expectations of conduct for all servicemembers, and “emphasis should be placed on behavior … not on teaching tolerance or sensitivity.”
And it’s not like there wasn’t (racial) history to go on:
The [Defense Personnel Security Research Center] study also owned the lessons of racial integration: “The intensity of prejudice against homosexuals may be of the same order as the prejudice against blacks in 1948, when the military was ordered to integrate,” it found. “The order to integrate blacks was first met with stout resistance by traditionalists in the military establishment. Dire consequences were predicted for maintaining discipline, building group morale, and achieving military organizational goals. None of these predictions of doom has come true.”
The Pentagon rejected a draft of the report and its follow-up, claiming it exceeded its mandate. Excerpts from the unpublished studies were released in a 1992 General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) 10-year report on the Pentagon’s policies toward gay servicemembers as Congress debated the guidelines that would become DADT.
We’d just love to hear how much more “research” and “studying” and “planning” the Defense Department still needs now that everything has been laid out, explicitly clear, for all to see. Because rest assured, it’s coming.