I have praised the way the president has been moving to repeal Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) because he has been working with military commanders to develop a means to effect repeal without compromising the effectiveness of our armed forces.
To see that it is possible for gay people to serve openly while retaining military morale and unit cohesion, one only look at the examples of the nations which allow gays to serve openly in the military, including one nation which faces threats to its survival on an almost daily basis and has thus developed one of the world’s most effective armed services. I’m speaking of course of Israel.
Thus, I was pleased to learn this week that this spring the Palm Center, a research institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara whose work of late has focused on gays in the military, will will be including officials of the Israel Defense Forces (as well as representatives of other NATO militaries) in a “Washington, D.C. summit of officials and experts from military forces that allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly“.
Dr. Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, cited three questions raised about “twenty-five foreign forces that allow open gay service:”
Did the decision to allow open gay service undermine military readiness? How was implementation managed? To what extent can lessons from abroad help U.S. officials plan for an inclusive policy?
This conference can only help ease doubts among those who believe allowing gays to serve openly in the military is merely a social experiment or perhaps done to please an interest group without regard for the welfare of our armed forces.
Ken Adelman who served as Ambassador and Arms Control Director in the Reagan Administration agrees:
The British, Australian, and Israeli militaries all now have solid experience with open gays in uniform. Their forces don’t suffer in performance; the gay service members there don’t seem to upset the straight members much. And U.S. forces, though in far greater numbers, don’t differ culturally or functionally too much from their colleagues in these militaries.