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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

How sailors are learning about a post-DADT world

By Ed O'Keefe

(Image by Associated Press)

Updated 2:07 p.m. ET
Four documents -- a 24-slide PowerPoint presentation, a two-page pamphlet, an eight-page "Frequently Asked Questions" form and 14 written vignettes -- are being used by Naval commanders and senior enlisted officers to train "deck hand sailors," or the rank and file, on what will happen once President Obama and top military leaders certify the military is ready to end its enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Over the course of training sessions lasting 90 minutes to two hours, the four documents help trainers reinforce the same general themes: The military's code of conduct will continue to apply without explicit regard to sexual orientation; potential violators may be punished for disobeying orders, dereliction of duty or for violating the law; and may be involuntarily separated for violating the policy.

(RELATED: Navy seeks to discharge sailor found asleep in bed with another sailor)

Gay rights groups that pushed to end the ban are divided over whether the military's standards of conduct should explicitly mention sexual orientation and worry that service members will lack ample opportunities to speak with officials outside the chain of command about potential violations of the new policy.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of the PowerPoint presentation from sources familiar with the military's training programs; Naval officials provided the additional documents once queried about the slides.

Consistent with the new policy, the slides also remind sailors they may not be discharged early for opposing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Early discharges will be granted "when in the best interest of the Navy," according to the slides.

Notably, information sailors receive about their overseas deployments will now include information on a host country's laws regarding homosexual conduct, according to the slides. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages, the military will not provide funding or country clearances for same-sex partners to relocate.

"A Sailor requests emergency leave after receiving a Red Cross message concerning the critical condition of his same-sex partner," reads one of the vignettes. "Issue: Benefits. Is the Sailor eligible for Emergency Leave?"

"The Sailor may be eligible for emergency leave," according to the document. "The sexual orientation of the Sailor's partner has no bearing on the decision." The answer then lists the appropriate circumstances for granting emergency leave.

"I think the Navy's on the right track here," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who has received extensive briefings on the military's post-DADT training plans. The other military services -- the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force -- are using similar slides and training methods, Sarvis said.

Naval training on the change in policy should be completed by June 30, according to Naval officials. But the timeline should be accelerated, Sarvis said: "I think the entire military could have certification and full repeal by June 30."

Here are links to the pamphlet, the FAQs, and the written vignettes. The PowerPoint slides may be viewed below, or by clicking here:

Staff writer Greg Jaffe contributed to this report.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 4, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Military  
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Training should be complete in all branches by October, 2011. FYI - provides a supportive place for gay servicemen and women to find friends, plan events, share photos and video chat.

Posted by: skoa | March 4, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a serious subject that requires a dedicated level of accuracy in its reporting. The initial paragraph refers to "senior enlisted officers". There are no senior enlisted officers in any of the armed services. Members of the armed services are either commissioned officers, or, they are enlisted service members. It's impossible to be both.

Posted by: gmal | March 4, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting to note that it appears that each service is preparing its own process to address this critical issue. Wouldn't it be more cost effective for DOD to develop the process so that it could be used by all services? It would be a win win situation for the government and the taxpayers.

Posted by: vponte | March 7, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

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