In an interview published Monday by the Associated Press, Robert Gates is said to have indicated that because military chiefs report little resistance to the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service personnel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), he would be open to certification before his tenure as Secretary of Defense ends at June’s close.
Saying that he thought people will have been surprised by the lack of resistance to the repeal, Gates did however caution that it would be unrealistic to expect absolutely no future incidents to occur.
The move to end the ban on gay services could be one of Gates’ final acts as defense chief.
“I think people are pretty satisfied with the way this process is going forward,” he said. “I think people have been mildly and pleasantly surprised at the lack of pushback in the training.”
Still, he noted that decades after women entered military service, there are still persistent problems with sexual assaults. So, the notion that there will be no ugly incidents when the ban is lifted is “unrealistic,” he said.
Under the law passed last December and the detailed process laid out this year by the Pentagon, the military chiefs report to Gates every two weeks on training progress and must eventually make a recommendation on whether the repeal will damage the military’s ability to fight.
If Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and President Obama certify before the end of June that DADT can be lifted without harm to the military’s readiness and cohesion, the repeal could go into effect by September after the sixty-day waiting period required by the legislative repeal.
Last week brought news that over half of the military has now been trained on the DADT repeal, so if certification was to go ahead this would mean it would occur before DADT repeal training is complete. Given the sixty-day waiting period however, there would seem enough time to complete training, though such an action may be characterized as unusually expedient based on the pace of the repeal so far. Read more on that here.
Moves by House Republicans to slow down the repeal by amending the National Defense Authorization Act have received a frosty reception from the White House, with a spokesperson saying the President has “serious objections to any amendment that would unnecessarily delay [the DADT repeal] process.” Read more on that here.