Navy sets deadline for completion of post-'don't ask, don't tell' training
Preparing for the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, the Navy on Tuesday publicly disclosed details about how it plans to train personnel about gays and lesbians serving openly, saying it expects to finish that effort by June 30.
The military services all submitted their training plans to the Pentagon on Friday and officials provided final teaching materials, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman. The services are required to train the force in three phases, beginning with military chaplains, lawyers and civilian public affairs officers, followed by commanding officers and the rank and file.
In a message sent to sailors Tuesday, the Navy said it will complete training for commanders no later than April 30 and for active and reserve personnel, Navy civilians and contractors two months later.
Training for commanders will include instructions on how to explain the policy changes and expectations of conduct to the rank and file. The training for active and reserve personnel and contractors will "emphasize policies and expectations of personal behavior," according to the Navy statement.
Though the Navy detailed its training plans in a publicly distributed message, the other services are preparing to begin training and could not provide further details, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.
Enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell" will officially stop two months after President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen certify that the military is ready to end the ban. Certification could occur before training is complete, military officials said last month.
The Navy's planned timetable isn't fast enough, said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a legal organization representing troops affected by the ban. If the other services follow the Navy's lead, repeal may not officially occur until September at the earliest, he said.
"I think that's very hard to explain to the majority of the force," Sarvis said in an interview. "Why would it take over nine months from the time the president signed the law to educate and train the bulk of the force when you consider that we can go to war halfway around the world in 90 days?"
Gates has said the Pentagon will move "as fast as we responsibly can" to end the ban, with the goal of doing so this year.
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