19 January 2009

NCO Blogger Comes Out For Don't Ask Don't Tell

Is an Openly Gay Military a Policy That Should Go Back in the Closet?

Despite the fact that gays in the military have been openly celebrated since Top Gun was released more than 20 years ago, Don't Ask Don't Tell remains in effect to this day. Obama has suggested scrapping the controversial policy and allowing homosexuals to openly serve, which I agree with. Civilian media and policy wonks will most likely make the mistake of talking to retired Generals about what effect this will have on the Armed Forces, when they should be talking to retired NCOs. Former generals are the go-to guys for strategic/tactical policy, but NCOs are in charge of the discipline and welfare of the armed forces, so they will have a better idea of how this policy affects day-to-day operations. That's why I'm pleased to see that CJ at A Soldier's Perspective has penned a lengthy piece on DADT (a senior enlisted soldier):
And where does it end? Where do we draw the moral line in the sand when it comes to acceptable behavior? How, as a First Sergeant, do I deal with a male Soldier who dresses like a female? Which uniform do I issue him/her? Does a transgendered Soldier get graded on the male APFT standards or the female APFT standards? Does he/she get to choose? If that is the case, everyone should get to choose. When it comes to grading the APFT, I can just suddenly decide I'm a woman for a day so that I get a higher score. When I do an in-ranks inspection, how do I deal with a male Soldier showing up in a skirt and pumps? Which latrine does he/she use? Where do I put them in the barracks? Can a transgendered female who became a male go into the Infantry Branch? Armor? Other areas that deny women to serve?
I know CJ is LDS and strongly religious, which is very common in the military. Most active-duty personnel do not support ending DADT either. So, opponents of DADT need to understand the servicemembers' mentality before jumping in head first and labeling everyone bigots. And if they utilize the anti-Prop 8 tactics of beating people up and publishing their home addresses, they probably aren't going to do very well with that strategy either.


Mike said...

Seems to me what we have here are two separate issues. A lot of the arguments against repealing DADT focus on the fact that we'll supposedly have a bunch of dudes running around screwing each other instead of fighting, as opposed to what we have now, which in their minds is a gender separated military in which the chivalrous males would never ever take advantage of any of their female brethren.

Hate to break it to them, but fraternization is a big problem in any unit where there are males and females (so pretty much anything outside of SOF, subs, and direct ground combat forces). Fraternization is a problem that needs more attention and a solution, but it has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuals in the military. As far as I'm concerned, if you are fraternizing, you are wrong. It doesn't matter what equipment you and your partner have. If you aren't being prejudicial to good order and discipline, I could care less who you bone when you're off duty.

Re: the transgendered strawman...seriously? How many transgendered people do you honestly think would even WANT to enlist in the military? Basing policy off of extreme cases makes for bad policy. I could be wrong here, but I'm willing to guess that transgendered/transsexuals/whatever make up a fairly small percentage of the U.S. population, so basing policy off of them is a very bad idea.

You do have a good point regarding the position of active duty personnel and DADT. I don't agree with DADT either, but social engineering with the military is a very dangerous thing. It can and in some cases should (desegregating is a great example of this) be done, but it has to be done the right way. Desegregation provides an example of how to do it properly. The introduction of women as combat pilots is a textbook example of how not to do it.

CJ said...

Mike, I don't suggest that there will be a battalion of girly men running around in dresses and eye shadow. Even ONE is too many and will cause problems for many others.

A recent poll by the Army Times suggested that the majority of troops, 71% would continue to serve if the DADT policy was overturned. Some would suggest that this is proof that it won't affect the military. Only 10% stated they would not re-enlist or extend their service and 14% would consider terminating their careers after serving their obligated tours.

On the surface, this sounds like further proof that DADT's time has come, right? Wrong. Consider this: the military is 2.4 million strong (if you include all branches, plus reserve and National Guard forces). If only 10% don't extend or re-enlist because of this, the military has just lost 240,000 troops JUST LIKE THAT! Another 336,000 would terminate their careers after serving their obligated tours. That's a total loss of over a half million troops to allow a small minority to serve openly!

Is it worth it?

Brandon Friedman said...

Is it worth it? There's no reason to believe that the bigots won't be replaced with patriotic Americans who happen to be gay and up front about it--Americans who are currently not allowed to serve.

Also, what empirical evidence do you have that gay soldiers will insist on wearing makeup and high heels? Is this a problem in other militaries that don't bar openly gay soldiers?

As for the Military Times poll, that's a completely worthless, unscientific survey. It's not any more valid than a front page blog poll. See link:


LT Nixon said...

So far three solid comments on this thread, thanks for the input!

Brandon, I know the military times polls aren't scientific, but seeing how no Gallup/Zogby poll is done on military members only, it's the only data point I could find.

Mike said...

Believe me, I fully appreciate the complexities of the situation. Like I said, social engineering with the military is sometimes necessary (desegregation) but it ALWAYS must be done carefully. Ignoring the appropriateness of the introduction of women into the combat aircrew field, it was done very poorly and had a VERY detrimental impact on the morale and effectiveness of the force as a whole. Was that worth getting women into the job? Of course not. Did the community eventually recover? Yes. Do women serve as effectively as male pilots? Yes.

The lesson is, that as I stated previously, this has to be done VERY carefully. If it isn't, the situation you describe or one like it will come to pass. However, I feel that saying it isn't worth it and making no effort to prepare for the eventuality of repealing DADT isn't a valid approach because like it or not, at some point gays WILL serve openly in the military. It's just a question of doing at the right time, when the force is ready to accept it, and in the right way.

CJ said...

Brandon, you're not the first person to misunderstand my comments. When I speak about "dresses and eye shadow", I'm not talking about gays or lesbians. I'm obviously (at least to me) speaking about transgendered and transexual males. I thought it would be obvious, but since you aren't the first to try and make that connection (oddly both flaming liberals), I thought I'd clear up my point.

LogicallyLocked said...

LOL CJ! You obviously don't read this blog often! Flaming Liberals... hehe

Weather the person is transgendered or a transexual makes no difference. First off those people probably aren't going to join the military (as stated above) so it's a moot point. Second off, why would they get to show up in pumps and makeup anyway? Has the military all of a sudden allowed men to show up in pumps? I do believe there are uniforms that have to be followed, by both sexes. And if you have male equipment between your legs I'm assuming that you'll be required to wear the male uniform regardless of your sexual preference.

Just because some straight guys are into S&M doesn't mean they get to show up in assless chaps and chains. Your sexual preference is something that should stay in the bedroom, and really shouldn't have any effect on what you do at work, be it on the field or in an office.

I'm all for pink poopie suits and pumps! That'll go over real well on a submarine. I'll be adding a nice set of pearls to my outfit, how about you? Your fears seem to me to be totally unfounded.

Bag Blog said...

Your sexual preference is something that should stay in the bedroom, and really shouldn't have any effect on what you do at work, be it on the field or in an office.

I agree with this logic. So if the DADT policy is for gays to be able to serve, but just not make their sexual preference known (keeping it in the bedroom) then it seems to be a policy that is working.

Mike said...

"So if the DADT policy is for gays to be able to serve, but just not make their sexual preference known (keeping it in the bedroom) then it seems to be a policy that is working."

Except for the fact that it's a double standard. If that's going to be our definition of "keeping it in the bedroom," heterosexual people shouldn't be allowed to be married or in any other way show they are interested in the opposite sex.

Lisa said...

Mike brings up some provocative points. Obviously, bigotry is wrong. Fraternization, among straight or gays, is one issue however.

Our society has yet to integrate all of its citizens. Gender bias still exists. When we allow gays to marry (or make civil unions par for every coupling), then we will have some parity in our democracy.

Then the issue will be moot. One's sexual preference should not be an issue for employment or promotion anywhere. Appropriate behavior is an expectation, and gays do not have the market on sexual harassment.

olgreydog7 said...

People need to stop treating the military as teh general public. It is not. How many drill sgts have uttered the words, we are here to protect democracy, not practice it? So much of what we do is inherently non-democratic, yet we are expected to make exceptions in other areas. I don't get it. Just like whether or not 1 transgender tries to enlist is a moot point, so is the point that a couple of them might be great leaders. Racial integration and gender integration are completly different. Those are not lifestyle choices. Being transexual or transgender is. There are plenty of things that I want to do, have long hair, make LOTS of money, ect, but I can't because I decided to join the military. Deal with it.

Bag Blog said...

Mike, legally when you interview for a job, the employer cannot ask you about your marriage or your religion. You can offer that info, but employers are not suppose to ask.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Just as an aside, the majority military opinion in 1948 was to continue the policy of segregation in the service, but Truman ended segregation in the military with Executive Order 9981.

The idiocy of comparing Gay marriage or equal rights to bestiality and incest is patently false and ridiculous as does the First Sgt. linked in your post LT.

LT Nixon said...


That's why we need great leaders, and not just people who conform to the will of the mob.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mike that fraternization is a problem in mixed-gender units, which is why it will be a problem in single-gender units that allow homosexuals. Why introduce it there?

I'm not terribly concerned with units that are not front-line infantry types. However, in infantry units, this could be a serious problem. To the extent that non-infantry units may be called on to serve as infantry, it could be a problem in them as well.

The effects that concern me are the psychological issues surrounding lovers of any orientation who serve in combat together. Lovers' quarrels could become quite deadly. Or, less violently, a jilted lover might be quite unwilling to risk life and limb for the guy who dumped him. Jody changes from some guy back home to some guy in the next barracks or the next bunk. Also, it's horrible enough when a soldier witnesses the killing of one of his team members; if that person is also his lover, the psychological effects of that would be magnified and could debilitate the soldier, inspire a heightened desire for revenge, etc.

As for comparisons, sexual orientation expresses itself in behavior. Race does not, so desegregating the military is not comparable to allowing homosexuals to openly serve. I'm not concerned with civil rights in the military when doing so might endanger the lives of those serving, and by extension their mission.

Also, I don't think should not assume something is inevitable, so the whole 'bow before the inevitable' argument seems pretty silly to me. Unless you got issued your M-2439a crystal ball before the rest of us, of course.

Chris in Florida said...

I was active duty USAF for 23 years. I experienced numerous acts of bigotry and prejudicial treatment because I was gay. I kept it in the DADT closet, but I never had a chance to be myself or be the best I could be because I always had this stigma hanging over me. The higher ranking enlisted were worse than the younger ones, but the young ones learned that they were held back if they didn't have the same attitudes as the higher ranking dinosaurs. I always found that the higher ranking officers were less concerned about gays in the ranks than the young officers though. I would have loved to see equality in the ranks, where gays were concerned. It's odd really; lesbians and gays were ignored if they were on sports teams or had special skills, but ordinary looking guys who didn't play sports or had unusal hobbies were thought to automatically be less manly and gay. Heaven forbid that you happen to have an interest in the local HIV/AIDS organization. I was miserable most of the 23 years and have experienced the same prejudice while attempting to get a civilian job on the local AF bases. I my opinion, even if the NCO's were to admit that gays would not and have not caused adverse mission problems, the upper commissioned ranks would object on principle. In northwest Florida, the climate is so ultra conservative that most cities can't keep a gay bar open and struggle where they try. Gays are especially persecuted here and first term AF members learn that attitude in order to survive their times at the two bases here. I point out that this area of Florida is the only part where Obama did not win. To this day the local newspaper prints the hatred-filled rankings of conservatives wishing Obama to fail or to even be assasinated. I hate it here, but am trapped because of the economy. I would rather stay and have something happen that forced a change from the inside, like the end of DADT.