DADT: Why I Question Repealing Morality, Part I

I wrote a letter in late May 2011 to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) requesting that Congress reconsider repealing what is popularly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). DADT is a misnomer. And so I shall refer to the repeal as the repealing of morality from the Armed Forces.

The Washington Times learned of my letter and reported on it in the June 8 edition of its, “Inside the Ring” section (“Army dissent” paragraph).

I know for certain that leaders across the Armed Forces read what The Washington Times published and so I am going to explain why I am questioning the pending repeal of morality. I’m going to break my explanation into two parts: why I decided to vocalize my opinion and why I oppose the pending repeal. The, “Why I’m Questioning” section will be Part I; “Why Repealing Morality Is Wrong” will be Part II. As always, my views are my own and I in no way represent the Army Reserve or any other part of the U.S. government.

Why I’m Questioning:

I know that I am in the minority in opposing the pending repeal of morality . . . at least, I am in the minority of those willing to vocalize their opposition. And yet that is part of the reason why I take the risk in saying something about it. There are other Servicemen who agree with me but I know they are afraid to say so since proponents of repealing morality do not tolerate any opposition.

Repeal proponents have already made it clear that they want to persecute/prosecute Servicemen who don’t side with them, with state-controlled media getting in on the act (of course) by using their bullying power to call for the punishment of Troops who don’t think “right.” This is a regrettable, yet predictable, fact: leftists don’t have to worry about retribution for opposing the Right, but the Right does face real retribution for disagreeing with the left. (The Right needs to recognize this fatal flaw and fix it; otherwise conservatives will contribute to their own extinction.) Yet if everyone allows the real threat of leftist retribution to silence them, then repeal proponents will get away with crowing that the repeal training is going off without a hitch all the while they further subvert and destroy the Armed Forces.

Furthermore, as a Soldier, I must speak up and do what I can to protect my fellow Soldiers (and Servicemen at large) when I know they face danger. In fact, everyone to the very top of the Department of Defense (DOD) acknowledges that this is true. Specifically, both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, have stated that telling the truth is vitally important in the Armed Forces:

I think that – in my view – one of the things that is most important to me is personal integrity. And a policy or a law that in effect requires people to lie gives me – gives me a problem. And so I think it’s – I mean, we spend a lot of time in the military talking about integrity and honor and values.

Telling the truth is a pretty important value in that scale. It’s a very important value. And so for me, and I thought the admiral was – that Admiral Mullen was eloquent on this last February – a policy that requires people to lie about themselves somehow seems to me fundamentally flawed.

It is true that these leaders spoke in support of the repeal. Yet their point remains valid even for those with a differing opinion since conscience was at the heart of their argument. Therefore, by my leaders’ own words, I should tell the truth about the danger that awaits the Armed Forces once the DOD implements the morality repeal. I would hope that all Servicemen, and the rest of the DOD, would agree with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen on conscience, and thus support me in speaking the truth.

However, if the words of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff aren’t convincing enough in demonstrating that even military personnel recognize that Servicemen are obligated to speak when they foresee danger, consider the 2007 Op-Ed, “Knowing When to Salute,” by Leonard Wong and Douglas Lovelace of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College. (Disclosure Note: I personally know Dr. Wong but he is in no way connected to this column or anything else I write.)

The authors wrote the Op-Ed in 2007 and explored the issue of military hierarchy–indeed, to a degree, all Servicemen–having a tendency to follow whatever decision superiors make without challenging leadership, even when it is clear that the leadership is making bad decisions. They noted that:

. . . instinctive military response to a decision–even when there is doubt about the fidelity of that decision–is not to publicly discuss the merits of the decision, but to defer to authority, salute, and then make the best of the situation.

After this, they noted that a group of retired generals had publicly criticized the war in Iraq and called for active duty military leaders to confront civilian leadership about it. The Op-Ed authors noted the irony of retired generals calling on active duty leaders to challenge civilian leadership. But before they did that, they quoted two of the retired generals. First, they quoted retired Marine Lieutenant General Greg Newbold who said:

I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader’s responsibility is to give voice to those who can’t–or don’t have the opportunity to–speak . . . It is time for senior military leaders to discard caution in expressing their views and ensure that the President hears them clearly.

Then they quoted retired Army Major General John Batiste saying that:

I think that the principles of war are fundamental, and we violate those at our own peril. And military leaders of all ranks, particularly the senior military, have an obligation in a democracy to say something about it.

Those two quotes confirmed to me that, from top to bottom, Servicemen recognize that Troops of all ranks have the right–indeed, likely an obligation–to say something when we know that a policy will cause harm.

And so, after I read a particularly disturbing article in The Huffington Post (that boasted of tyrannical, Orwellian-like thought policing and actions–secret recordings and all) which undoubtedly is already undermining unit cohesion, I knew for sure that I had to speak up and write to the HASC. I knew I no longer could remain silent.

Next: Part II – “Why Repealing Morality Is Wrong”

.