The sub-headline is "Journal article backs gay troops; May signal brass open to debate." Well, maybe.
This seven page article was written while the author was a student at the National War College. The paper won this year's 2009 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay Competition.
The author, Air Force Colonel Om Prakash graduated this summer from National War College and is now serving as a Military Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary for Policy, Office of Industrial Policy ODUSD(IP).
The conclusion is here:
Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather, it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.Probably so.
I like that the author did address the issue of if Don't Ask, Don't Tell is really an avenue for people to get out of a long term commitment to military service, something I have wondered about.
Before the inception of DADT, the rates of discharge for homosexuality had been steadily falling since 1982. Once the law was passed, rates climbed, more than doubling by 2001 before beginning to fall again. Since 1994, the Services have discharged nearly 12,500 Servicemembers under the law.As the author, Colonel Prakash, tells us in his essay, there is not a lot of hard science here, but there is a lot of hardened opinions.
There are various explanations for the rise in discharges for homosexuality after 1993. One is that the increase reflects how discharges are recorded rather than an underlying change in practices. A senior Air Force Judge Advocate points out that prior to the change in the law, homosexual discharge actions during basic military training were classified as fraudulent enlistments because the person had denied being a homosexual when he or she enlisted and later changed position. After the change in the law, the Air Force no longer collected the information during the enlistment process, so fraudulent enlistment was no longer an option, and the Air Force began characterizing the discharges as homosexual conduct. Gay rights advocates argued that the increase was due to commanders conducting “witch hunts,” yet commanders also reported fear of being accused of discrimination and only processing discharges when a case of “telling” was dumped in their laps. Another explanation is that given the law and recent reduction in stigma associated with homosexuality in society at large, simply declaring one is homosexual, whether true or not, is the fastest way to avoid further military commitment and receive an honorable discharge. In support of this supposition, Charles Moskos,♠ one of the original authors of DADT, points out that the number of discharges for voluntary statements by Servicemembers accounted for 80 percent of the total, while the number of discharges for homosexual acts actually declined over the years.
My personal view is that the time has come. On the other hand, given the way society works, which is not always in a linear fashion, that time may also go away in 50 or 100 years.
Regarding the article in The Boston Globe, it has caused a lot of media people to contact the source, Joint Forces Quarterly. A few have been incredulous that this is not a plant by senior Department of Defense leadership. My guess is that it is not. One year I was the essay sponsor for then Colonel Charlie Dunlap (now the Deputy Judge Advocate General and a two star general). The title was "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012."♥ It was co-winner of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategy Essay Contest, a competition among students from all the US military's senior service schools, or "War Colleges."
To the best of my knowledge it was not a subject presented to Charlie Dunlap at the beginning of the year by the Air Force chain of command.
So, (1) an interesting essay, (2) probably not a trial balloon and (3) not the most controversial article in this issue of the Joint Forces Quarterly. That would be "Strategic Drift: The Future of the National War College," the article I co-authored with Dr Janet Smith, former faculty member at National War College and now in Saudi Arabia, with her husband, the new US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Regards — Cliff
♠ The late Charles Moskos, one of the leaders in the field of military sociology. A fine gentleman.
♥ I can't find the paper at this time, but here is reporter Tom Ricks talking about it. Whoops, this may be it.