Monday, November 8, 2010

Overcome By Events

OBE was one of the phrases I learned during my year in the Pentagon that I liked the most.*  That something is no longer relevant as it has been overcome by events.  Military plans often fit into this category.  Usually, officers do not deliberately choose courses of action that will be OBE.  But there are exceptions.  For instance, the new Commandant of the US Marines, General James Amos, is pushing back against the elimination of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  This is not that surprising as the service chiefs have been less thrilled with SecDef Gates and Chairman Mullen's position on this.

General Amos makes the usual hedges about combat effectiveness, but the only real facts suggest that gays in the military do not hurt readiness.  The facts: our allies are ahead of the US on this, and they have had no real problems:
"It was a nonevent," says retired Maj. Gen. Simon Willis, the former head of personnel for the Australian Defence Force, "and it continues to be a nonevent."
Indeed, the list of countries that allow gays to openly serve in the military includes many of those that are quite effective: Canada, Britain, Australia, Israel, etc.

The fun part of the study indicates that debating involves more controversy than implementing:
Above all, Congress and the Pentagon should rest assured that open service is, ironically, easier to implement than it is to study. Our allies had similarly fierce public debates. But once the new policies were in place, the return to normalcy was swift and all-encompassing. It was "really, really dull," recalls Craig Jones, a retired lieutenant commander in the British Royal Navy.
Indeed, DADT may be harming readiness far more than getting rid of it:
At a time when the mental health of U.S. troops is carefully monitored, its repeal should be seen as a matter of battle readiness, according to our allies. "Forcing [gay servicemen and women] to have to constantly censor themselves, to regulate their behavior, to pretend to be somebody they’re not, is putting people at risk," says Okros, the retired Canadian captain. It’s also hampering joint appointments, according to Canadian Navy Cmdr. Luc Cassivi, who says that allied soldiers have turned down U.S. postings rather than return to the closet under DADT.
Holy inter-operability, Batman!  Looks like the US is the one causing some alliance problems.

The courts keep ruling against DADT.  Eventually, it will go by the wayside.  The new Congress is unlikely to be enlightened enough to do so.  But DADT will be OBE, just later rather than sooner.

*ht to abu Muqawama's tweets for the links and the reminder about OBE.

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