Pentagon moving fast to end 'don't ask,' Gates says
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wants military leaders to start training troops about the formal end to the "don't ask, dont' tell" policy in a "very few weeks," he said Thursday.
He said Pentagon officials are working quickly on a three-part plan: overhauling applicable military personnel policy and benefits; providing training for top brass and military chaplains; and then formally instructing the nation's 2.2 million troops on the ban's repeal.
Troop training will be done "as expeditiously as we can," the secretary said, but it will prove challenging, because "there's just a certain element of physics associated with the number of people involved in this process." He did not elaborate.
Gates's remarks, at a Pentagon news conference on planned military spending cuts, were his first in public on "don't ask, don't tell" since President Obama signed a law ending the ban on gays in the military in late December.
Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel, has been instructed to quickly draft changes to personnel policy and the Uniform Code of Military Justice and to complete the training of top military leaders, Gates said.
"It's better to do this sooner rather than later," Gates said. "So we're kind of approaching it with that -- with that philosophy in mind."
At the same briefing, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen warned troops that the ban remains in effect until Obama formally certifies the repeal.
"Now's not the time to -- to come out, if you will," Mullen said at the same briefing.
(Gates further discussed the spending cuts and plans to end "don't ask, don't tell" on Thursday's "PBS NewsHour".)
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