Sunday, December 19, 2010

A veterans perspective on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The recent repeal of the US Military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been met equally with applause and with invective which in my opinion is a result of people’s personal biases more than any legitimate concern for military effectiveness. This may come as a shock to some who know me but I am in favor of the repeal of this absurd policy. Set aside the fact that it was put in place during the Clinton Administration and the fact that I oppose darn near every policy move made during that sorry-assed 8 year period, I’d have been opposed to DADT regardless of who sat as POTUS at the time. There may have been a time for a policy such as this, however, that time was not 1993 when it was enacted and it certainly isn’t appropriate today.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right from the start for those who may not have served in the US Military; There are homosexuals serving in the US Military today, and they’ve been there for years. These men and women are serving proudly and valiantly right alongside their hetero counterparts. It shouldn’t come as a shock that a goodly percentage of Military Members are gay. 1/10 civilians are gay, it stands to reason that a similar, but probably somewhat smaller ratio would extend to the Military Ranks despite some arcane and stupid piece of legislature such as 10 U.S.C. § 654 or potential UCMJ implications.

The basis for most people’s arguments in favor of DADT is the specious and spurious argument of “Military Effectiveness”. They cite “potential problems” regarding shower and sleeping facilities or they’ll raise the ominous specter of the potential for gay bashing. The final, and most absurd among the arguments is cohesion and trust within close knit combat units. The frequency with which the aforementioned is proffered by those who have never actually served is all one really needs to know about the validity of the arguments. In my opinion they are simply projecting their own biases on those who are actually serving in the Military.

As a Veteran with eleven years of military service, I am offended by the assertion that somehow I'd have been less effective at my job if I'd known who among my shipmates were gay. The shower/sleeping issue is so absurd as to be laughable. I'm not so vain as to think because someone's gay that they’ll be interested in me in a sexual way any more than I'd assume a woman wanted me strictly because she's hetero.

During my eleven years of service I worked with no less than 3 Helicopter Aviators who were gay. That’s just the ones I knew of. Each of them were great pilots and great officers. In that same time I worked with easily a 1/2doz enlisted aircrew who were gay. Again, each of them was a stellar crewman, mechanic and petty officer. I’m still in touch with one of them who was recently promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer.

While Stationed in Hawaii, my neighbor in Ewa Beach was a US Navy Seal, and a drag queen. Yup, he is among the baddest of BAD-ASS Military Men. He is big, muscular, can run like a deer, swim like a fish and knows 101 ways to kill you or anyone else with his bare hands and twice that many ways using improvised or traditional weapons. When he’s not actually killing bad guys or training to do so he prefers to wear women’s clothing. I got an email from him earlier this year. He is on his 10th trip to Afghanistan and is killing members of Al-Qaeda just fine.

Also while stationed in Hawaii I raced outrigger canoes with two Marines and a former US Army Ranger School Instructor who were gay.

The point is that Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coasties are professionals. They do their jobs despite numerous distractions. During the time that I served there were all manner of potentially disruptive things going on within the various units in which I served. In any unit the potential distractions are numerous. Members of the unit sometimes don’t get along. Just like amongst civilians there are racists, bigots, religious zealots, conservatives & liberals. Despite being forbidden, there are sexual relationships within chains of command. There are officers dating enlisted folks. There are people banging other people’s wives. There are men and women with family members with terminal illness or special needs kids. There are valued members of the team who get transferred or killed either in action, training or off-duty accidents. There are deployments and deployments and more deployments….and the job must still get done, and it does get done. So to imply that the knowledge that a fellow member of a unit is gay would somehow negatively impact my performance or that of those who I am charged to lead is an insult to my professionalism and that of every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coastie.

The implication essentially states that an atypical expression of human sexuality is the one thing the US Military can't handle. Hitler, Hirohito & Mussolini all at once we can deal with. Ask the military to stare down the USSR for 40-odd years of Cold War, no problem. North Korea backed by hoards of Red Chinese – a walk in the park…but dealing with a couple of guys who like guys in the ranks is just too much to ask of a soldier currently charged with facing a combined 14 centuries of hatred toward infidels.

Waves of suicide bombers, a war they may or may not agree with and a POTUS who can't seem to make up his mind about what to do in Iraq and Afghanistan are a piece of cake, but a gay guy is a threat to unit effectiveness. Really?

If you tell me you are opposed to gays in the military because you find homosexuality “icky” or it offends your religious belief that’s fine. I can respect your statement of values even if I don’t agree with them. But don’t project your bias on others and to try imply that somehow our Modern American Fighting Man/Woman is unable to deal with something like this, something darn near every civilian deals with in their workplace.

Look, I am probably the most hetero dude on you are likely to meet. I am a vet. I have been to Iraq, twice. I don't see the problem, and frankly I'm offended when someone, particularly someone w/o a DD-214 or dog tags, tries to defend DADT based on unit effectiveness.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, now if they would simply leave that side of life between them selves and their partners/friends/family.
    Prancing around town in a parade just doesnt set well with me, they want a committed relationshsip, let them go to city hall and have a civil ceremony, and when they divorce, they lose half if the state they live in divides everything. My nephew is gay, my cousin who was more like a brother I can pretty much say was gay, now deceased and yes from complications of the lifestyle.
    As my dad always told me, keep it in your pants till you know the other person,,,then keep it between you,,, IE dont kiss and tell.
    But its now so "cool" or "in" to be out. Too bad they were never taught its better to be seen and not heard as different , rather than open your mouth, shout it out and make them distrust/despise/defend against something that makes them uncomfortable/etc.
    Kind of like the old saying, better to keep your foolish mouth shut than to open it and prove your a fool to everyone listening. NOT saying they are fools.
    My opinion is I DONT CARE, just dont take pics/movies/play by play scripts/etc.
    But you try to put it in my face and you then MAKE me state my opinion/thoughts/feelings.
    Just a thought. And as you I know many people who are gay, fairly decent people, and do their job good. Too bad THEY will take the brunt of punishment for the "out ones".
    Good Post.