Pentagon officials will roll out a plan today that will give the services about three months to train troops on the new law allowing gays to serve openly.
Three levels of training will usher in changes to everything from personnel regs and recruiting, officials said. One level will be for administrators and leadership. The second will be for senior commanders who will have to enforce the policies. The third will be the general training for the troops.
Once the training is complete, the president must certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ ability to fight. Sixty days after certification, the new law would take effect and end the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Even then, the transition will have obstacles to overcome. For example, there still is no word on how same sex partners will be treated in regard to health and other benefits.
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Obama declared that
Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love … It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”
The Government Accountability Office recently released a report detailing the personnel and cost data associated with implementing DoD’s homosexual conduct policy. You can read the report here. Some interesting highlights:
- From fiscal 1994 through 2009, the Defense Department separated more than 13,000 active military servicemembers under its homosexual conduct policy. These separations represent about 0.37 percent of the 3.6 million members separated for all reasons, including expiration of terms of service and retirement.
- The analysis of Defense Manpower Data Center data gave specific attention to fiscal 2004 through 2009, during which 3,664 servicemembers were separated under the homosexual conduct policy. Of those, 1,442 (39 percent) held critical occupations such as infantryman and security forces, while 23 (less than 1 percent) held skills in an important foreign language, such as Arabic or Spanish. Seven held both a critical occupation and an important foreign language skill.
- GAO calculated that it cost about $193.3 million ($52,800 per separation) to separate and replace the 3,664 servicemembers. This $193.3 million comprises $185.6 million in replacement costs and $7.7 million in administrative costs.