The Pentagon will continue to execute its current policy on transgender troops until it receives direction from the White House, a defense official told Breitbart News on Thursday.
“The policy is still in effect until we receive guidance from the White House,” the official said.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White suggested that could happen in the “near future.”
She said in a statement:
The Department of Defense is awaiting formal guidance from the White House as a followup to the commander in chief’s announcement on military service by transgender personnel. We will provide detailed guidance to the Department in the near future for how this policy change will be implemented. The Department will continue to focus on our mission of defending our nation and ongoing operations against our foes while ensuring all servicemembers are treated with respect.
President Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military in any capacity, due to costs and cohesion concerns.
Pentagon officials the next day could not answer whether this applies to currently serving transgender forces or whether it applies only to new recruits who are openly transgender.
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Iraq, who briefed reporters on the ISIS war received various questions on whether troops in Iraq and Syria were given guidance on the announcement, but he said he did not know and referred questions to the Department of Defense.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford acknowledged those questions in a note to all military leaders that said nothing would be changed until the White House provides guidance.
“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” he said, according to a picture of the letter tweeted by NBC.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions,” he said:
JUST IN: Joint Chiefs memo: No change in the US military transgender policy until the Defense secretary receives the president's direction. pic.twitter.com/nWTsIKutnx
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) July 27, 2017
The White House has not yet indicated when it will send guidance.
Currently, Pentagon policy is to allow transgender individuals already in the military to serve openly and to start allowing transgender recruits to begin serving in December, after policies have been developed to accommodate them.
A 2016 RAND study estimated that about 3,960 transgender troops currently serve in the active and reserve components, although some groups say there are as many as 15,000.
The Obama administration had called for new recruits to begin serving in July, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had delayed that until December to give service chiefs more time to address some concerns. Mattis has been on vacation this week.