Since well before he became our military’s Commander-In-Chief, President Obama has insisted on the immediate demise of the military policy against open homosexual behavior. Given his lack of experience with or connection to military policy, one might have expected the awesome weight of sending our warriors into harm’s way might have made him reconsider his call for radical change. After all, the reason the military has closely regulated sexual conduct for centuries—just like it closely regulates other aspects of service member’s lives—is to ensure it can do its incredibly difficult and dangerous job. But one would have been wrong.
After entering office, the President remained insistent that the mores of sexual behavior in the military, which have successfully benefitted our country in one capacity or another since the founding era, be turned on their heads. And, over the combined objections of the Chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines—not to mention more than 1,000 retired high-ranking officers and a large group of decorated veteran chaplains—he got his wish with a law that set a sexual revolution in the military into motion.
One might think, then, that the President would be delighted that a federal court more or less finished the job for him recently by allowing a worldwide ban on the policy to go into effect. One would again be wrong. Almost immediately, the Department of Justice filed an emergency request that the court undo what the President has demanded be done for so long. This request said that “significant immediate harms” would occur if the President’s campaign promise became overnight the new worldwide policy for the U.S. military, citing the need to give combat units time to “prepare themselves” for “any challenges they may face after repeal [of the policy].” Fortunately, the court granted the emergency request. But this panicky response shows that changing the policy will not be the smooth sailing that the President promised.
All along, the President has argued that repeal of the policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would simply benefit military “integrity” and not harm the military mission at all. But even his pro-repeal Secretary of Defense spoke of repeal in terms of attempting to “mitigate, if not eliminate, to the extent possible, risks to combat readiness, to unit cohesion and effectiveness.” That is, trying to keep a clearly politically-motivated move from harming the military too much.
Similarly, in the President’s own “study” of the military (the pro-repeal spin of which has since been revealed as a sham by the Inspector General), for every service member that predicted repealing DADT would be beneficial, more than two said it would be harmful. Indeed, the vast majority of combat troops polled opposed repeal because of this anticipated harm. This, of course, is common sense, as most Americans understand that injecting a politicized sexual agenda into the military is not a winning formula for maintaining maximum troop readiness.
All this leads one to wonder: if this change is risky enough that even the President scrambles to prevent it from happening “too quickly,” the Secretary of Defense who championed it focuses on limiting damage wrought by it, and most combat troops anticipate harm from it, why are we forcing it on our service men and women at all?
This post originally appeared here.