Essay In Prestigious DoD Journal Criticizes DADT, And Other Signs Of A Shift


This seems to be a first: an article in the Joint Forces Quarterly, an influential warfighting journal, contends that there is "no scientified evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly."  The article, "The Efficacy Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, was first noticed by the Boston Globe. Author Col. Om Prakash happens to be detailed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which will undoubtedly draw even more attention to the article. Prakash concludes that the ban ought to be repealed and proposes several ways to make the transition.

"There will be some practical changes and certainly some cultural changes if Congress and the President move to lift the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the Armed Forces. These changes will not be confined to the heterosexual populations. Education, leadership, and support will be key elements in a smooth transition even though the cultural acceptance of homosexuals has grown dramatically in the 16 years since the passage of DADT," he writes. "In an attempt to allow homosexual Servicemembers to serve quietly, a law was created that forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of "equality for all," places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas, and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve. Furthermore, after a careful examination, there in a survey from Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom, it was found that the decision to lift the ban had no impact on military performance President Obama seeks to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. ... Additionally, there is sufficient empirical evidence from foreign militaries to anticipate that incorporating homosexuals will introduce leadership challenges, but the challenges will not be insurmountable or affect unit cohesion and combat effectiveness. Though, as Congress clearly stated in 1993, serving in the military is not a constitutional right, lifting the ban on open service by homosexuals would more\ clearly represent the social mores of America in 2009 and more clearly represent the free and open society that serves as a model for the world. Ultimately, Servicemembers serving under values they believe in are the most effective force multipliers."

Even more interestingly: the essay won a contest sponsored under the name of the Secretary of Defense. Nathanial Frank, a Palm Center scholar the University of Santa Barbara, calls the article a "watershed" in the debate. "It does not mean that Chairman Mullen has announced his support for repeal, but it does reflect a seismic shift in military opinion on the gay troops issue. It shows that even people inside the Pentagon are increasingly critical of the policy and are willing to air that publicly."   Among the biggest objections to a DADT repeal -- at the among the objections that carry water with military brass -- is that soldiers, on balance, oppose a repeal. But surveys also show that most believe that they, personally, could get along with gay soldiers.  Another sign: Lt. Daniel Choi, the Arabic linguist kicked out of the military for being gay, is the featured speaker at two West Point classes this week. His Tweet: "Heading up to West Point to speak to two classes. "Hooah, Beat Navy!")

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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