Does War Make Soldiers More Tolerant?

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The conventional wisdom on gays in the military during wartime is that conservatives think it's bad for military effectiveness because it disrupts "unit cohesion" and that liberals think that the U.S. military needs--beyond the fact that the policy is discriminatory. This is more or less the debate that has raged around don't ask, don't tell from its Clinton-era inception though Obama current push for repeal.

Underpinning this debate is the assumption that war makes the impact of gay soldiers on military culture either a bad thing or simply neutral. But what if war, instead of making the military less tolerant of gay soldiers, actually makes it more tolerant? Blogger Spencer Ackerman looks at the Army's storied 10th Mountain Division, "one of the most combat-deployed divisions [...] since 9/11." He finds that the unit seems largely impatient with the ban on gay soldiers. Ackerman opines:

It’s been said that wartime is no time to get rid of DADT. It might be the best time. A combat-experienced military learns very quickly that it has no time for trivial bigotries. It requires the most competent and professional people possible. That’s why a mission-first ethos naturally leads to an antipathy for DADT. And who’s more motivated for the mission than people who want to serve so badly that they’ll currently suppress an important aspect of their identity because of an older generation’s sensibilities?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.