Here is Part Two in a short series of posts regarding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Oh, and again I’d ask everybody to show respect by please doing what you can to limit conversation to the topic at hand rather than use this as an opportunity to attack each other. All criticisms, of course, are always welcome.
In my previous post (Not-So-Straight Facts), I helped shed some light to the often used, but unsubstantiated argument that the number of discharges of gay servicemembers has increased in the past decade since DADT was introduced. As nobody took any issue with the substance of that clarification, today I endeavor to walk a little further out on the limb in hopes of adding some military perspective advocates should keep in mind if they’re ever to get this policy changed.
Let’s start with something simple: Yes, I’d prefer to be able to serve openly as a gay man in the US Military. It would be much easier for me and I’d also enjoy my service a lot more. Every gay military colleague with whom I’ve discussed this feels likewise. I presume all our friends, families, and co-workers (to whom we are out) also agree.
Now let’s look at the facts on the ground: The US Military doesn’t change the type of toilet paper we use in the latrine without an exhaustive feasibility analysis and thorough study of its impact on the mission. Hell, it takes us years to make simple changes to our uniforms.
Our mission in the US Armed Forces is to kill the enemy and break his things. Period. And no policy change, even as logical and right as it may seem from the outside, is even going to be considered if it hasn’t been shown to enhance that mission.
That may seem stupid and short-sighted and we may seem like blinded ogres. But these are the facts, and when it comes to changing military policy, advocates would be best served to learn to argue from the military’s perspective. Appeals to the mainstream of American thought and sensibilities and cries of unfairness are good and well, but the advocate community has to realize it’s not going to get anywhere with its goal of allowing homosexuals to openly serve until they start coming up with hard facts (that stand up to scrutiny) that show how a change to the policy will better enable the military to perform its duty.
Generals and admirals, top DoD officials and powerful Congressional committee members are not going to advocate for a change to the policy simply because enough people show up on a poll saying it’s unfair. At least I hope not. Hopefully there’s a clear and demonstrable mission-related reason to change the policy. Hopefully advocacy groups are looking actively for these reasons. Historically, with a few interesting exceptions, they’ve fallen quite short.
Ending the policy for the wrong reason could have disastrous consequences. If a precedent is set for changing our strategic military defense policies because enough people cry about it being unfair, it’s only a matter of time before the Armed Forces better resembles your local neighborhood watch than the world’s greatest military machine it is today–not because of openly-serving gays, but because of a lack of standards in the decision-making process. On the other hand, if we are able to show beyond reasonable criticism how ending the ban would strengthen the military and enhance our ability to perform the mission, not only would we get our way (as recalcitrant and backward as the brass may seem to the outside world, they’re always looking for ways to do their jobs better), but we’d probably also gain more respect as a “community” by having earned our way in through a presentation of the facts rather than pouting until we got our way.
Long story short, don’t expect folks who don’t shit without doing a mission-impact assessment to change a policy because it seems unfair and makes some soldiers feel bad. On the other hand, give them some proof that it’ll make it easier to fight and win wars and you’ll have decision-makers on your side.
Let’s start our argument with: National Security will be enhanced through a stronger Armed Forces and America will be safer by allowing openly homosexual members to serve because…
When we can unquestionably complete that thought–with facts to back it up–we’ll have made our point and it will take care of itself. In my next installment I’ll show how some of the arguments don’t finish that thought, and how closely some of them actually do.