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New Poll Shows Senior Military Officers Support DADT

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 10:35 am - February 26, 2008.
Filed under: Gays In Military,Military

The findings of this CNAS poll are interesting in what active duty and recently retired senior officers think about various proposals to “fill the ranks” of the military:

78% – Expand options for legal permanent residents to serve in exchange for citizenship
58% – Allow a larger percentage of those who have GED but not a high school diploma
47% – Increase enlistment bonuses
47% – Increase the maximum age restriction
38% – Reinstate the draft
22% – Allow gays and lesbians to serve openly
 7% – Increase use of criminal, health, and other “waivers” for service

The second and third ideas are worthwhile to examine and in some instances are being implemented as we speak.  The first idea makes me wary a bit of following ancient Rome’s poor example of accidentally creating a mercenary army composed largely of foreigners, but does provide some benefits as well.  I’m also wary of the fourth idea, yet again there are benefits to exploiting the knowledge and skills of older Americans who are able to serve.  The idea of resinstating the draft is a non-starter, a bit of a third rail in politics that the current conflicts will not generate enough support to implement.  I’m glad to see a lot of skepticism by officers about the various waivers that have been used by the military in recent years.  Except for the draft, this idea concerns me the most about the effectiveness of our military. 

Finally, we get to the idea of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to allow gays & lesbians to serve openly.  It doesn’t really surprise me that among senior officers this garners only 22% support.  They tend to be more conservative and first began serving under a very different era than the current climate for homosexuals in our society.  We saw the same kind of angst and opposition among all levels of the officer corps when racial desegregation was pushed through in 1948 and later when women were allowed to serve.  Such change always brings its own set of unique problems that have to be dealt with, no matter how minute.  No officer worth his or her salt generally takes on additional problems in fulfilling their mission unless they are ordered to do so.  Some have difficulty adapting to new situations and environments from what they have always known.  We saw evidence of this when the Cold War ended in the early 1990s and the military was forced to examine how to perform its mission given the new realities.  The idea of large armies battling for control over the Fulda Gap, for example, went out the window.  Recent conflicts have shown that the old strategies were obsolete in the face of asymmetric warfare.  It should be noted that among the respondents to this poll, 89% are 51 or above in age, 71% of the retirees had left the service 11+ years ago, and only 9.9% “have been to Iraq and/or Afghanistan at least once”.  It would be interesting to see if the results of this poll differ with the junior officer corps, usually of younger age, as well as a larger sample of officers who have served one or more times in Iraq/Afghanistan.  I’m also curious if the number of tours in either conflict for each officer may have an impact on the results as well.  Finally, how different would the results be for retirees who left the service in the past 5 years? 


If there is one constant in military matters, it is that change is inevitable.  The current opposition among senior officers to repealing the ban against gays openly serving may delay its repeal, but in the long run will not prevent it.  In my view, the time has come now for the military to take advantage of the change in our society regarding homosexuals and Congress should repeal the ban.  The struggle to achieve this isn’t over by a long shot, but support for such a move is growing every day and sometime soon full integration will take place in spite of the skepticism.  I predict that much of the angst we see now will in the future be looked back upon with great puzzlement.

UPDATE: Oops. I missed the other CNAS poll that was attached to this one. This one had a much smaller sample but of the respondents, all were active duty or had retired no more than 1 year ago, 83% were 50 years or younger, and 30% had served in Iraq at least once while 13% were in Afghanistan for at least one tour. The results concerning DADT were almost the same: only 23% of respondents favored repeal. I’m still curious what factor the other items I mentioned play into the results of both of these polls. While all of this is interesting, this doesn’t change my view on repeal.

UPDATE: I must be having an off day today. My apologies. I also missed the disclaimer CNAS put out concerning these two polls. Of particular note is the following that may have some impact on the results:

Like many surveys conducted by the media and other organizations, including past FP indexes on terrorism, the CNAS/FP effort was not a randomized poll. Instead, emails were sent to thousands of individuals, mostly members of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), but also to additional active duty personnel currently serving in fellowships or at senior service schools, as well as to several hundred retired general and flag officers who were selected for their long service and extensive experience…

When we sent out the survey, we were unsure what mix of retired and active officers would respond, particularly through MOAA. As it turned out, although 285 active duty personnel responded, the response from the retired community was much larger, so that 92 percent of the 3,437 total respondents were retired. Some 700 participants had retired within the past 10 years, so that 29 percent of survey respondents were active duty or retired within the last ten years, while 71 percent had retired more than 10 years ago. Finally, and as noted in the FP article, more than two-thirds of respondents had combat experience and 10 percent had operational experience in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

— John (Average Gay Joe)



  1. If I was in the military I’d probably be against DADT just to save myself from the circus that would result ..not because of the merits of the policy itself… which is a shame.  But that’s how things are now in this country.. Washington DC is the locus of unseriousness.. nothing productive gets done because of the partisan warfare… which I blame the Left for of course.. but it goes both ways.

    I feel like the left and their petty vindictiveness have led to a government that is too dysfunctional to function.

    Comment by Vince P — February 26, 2008 @ 12:03 pm - February 26, 2008

  2. 22%.  That’s depressing.  I think we may be stuck with this policy so long as the top brass are willing to go in front of Congress and testify that the policy is necessary.  And given that only about 1 in 5 favor repealing it, I’m afraid that no one is going to be willing to speak out against the policy and take the heat for doing so, at least not while still serving.

    Comment by Houndentenor — February 26, 2008 @ 12:44 pm - February 26, 2008

  3. Is this the same poll that Uncle Sully refrenced containing mostly senior officers who retired before DADT?  And that almost all of those polled had not actually commanded combat troops in the field during the Iraq War and the Surge, nor witnessed the minimal-impact that openly-gay-within-their units soldiers and Marines have with today’s military?  Let’s remember that old chestnut that the Army brass is always fighting the last war, not planning for the next one.

    A better gauge would be to poll the current active-duty combat commanders at the Captain and Major levels in the cahin-of-command.  They actually know who’s in their units…and more importantly where the actual combat-problems lie.

    Plus, it’s best to remember that there are ways the Pentagon senior-brass in suits and uniforms can retaliate against retired general-grade officers that keep them toeing the party-line; cancel their security-clearances, restrict their access to active-duty installations, etc…  Just like lobbysist, retired generals are hired and paid huge fees and salaries by the corporate sector (and the Fourth Estate) for their "access".  Cut-off their "access", and they are soon living on their half-pay which barely covers their country club dues.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — February 26, 2008 @ 1:58 pm - February 26, 2008

  4. Considering that this was not a scientific poll, this entire post should be deleted. It is misleading. At the very least the title should be changed to "Survey shows support for DADT among MOAA members."

    Comment by Chase — February 26, 2008 @ 2:57 pm - February 26, 2008

  5. John, thanks for sharing this and your thoughts on it.  I was goiong to blog on it myself when I saw the report yesterday but haven’t had time to put something well-expressed together.  You captured my thoughts exactly.

    Very interesting results, and I do agree with you for the most part.

    Comment by Mike — February 26, 2008 @ 3:05 pm - February 26, 2008

  6. I think everyone is reading the results, or the question of the poll incorrectly.  The question relates to proposals to "fill the ranks".  It just seems to me that those proposals that scored more than allowing gays and lesbians would affect or have a greater increase in "filling the ranks" than getting rid of DADT and therefore be more appealing for the question at hand.   

    Comment by HCN — February 27, 2008 @ 7:19 pm - February 27, 2008

  7. […] poll conducted earlier this year found that only 22% of senior officers are in favor of getting rid of […]

    Pingback by Commentary » Blog Archive » Obama Should Tell, Not Ask — November 23, 2008 @ 1:20 pm - November 23, 2008

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