During consideration of the national defense authorization act this week by the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) will offer an amendment to require that all four military service chiefs certify that implementation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT)" repeal won’t impact combat readiness and effectiveness. The amendment mirrors legislation previously introduced by Hunter—H.R. 337, the Restore Military Readiness Act.
"The four military service chiefs are far more closely connected to the day-to-day realities facing each respective service branch than those who are currently required to sign off on the repeal—including the President," said Hunter, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs should all take part in the certification process, but excluding the service chiefs is a mistake. They may agree to move forward with the repeal or they may have other recommendations for implementation and timing. Either way, their unvarnished perspective is critical to this process—especially as it relates to preserving the military's high rate of effectiveness.
"I've said before that our priority should be winning in Afghanistan and focusing on the roadside bomb threat, the primary source of U.S. casualties. The repeal of DADT won't make our troops any safer or help achieve victory any faster. Even so, any movement toward implementation must be efficient and show respect for the culture and tradition unique to each service branch and the military as a whole."
Although Hunter's comments are couched in terms of how implementation should be approached, Hunter will an outspoken opponent of repeal in the 111th Congress and has been one of the few voices still speaking out strongly in opposition in the 112th Congress. Hunter does have support from at least some Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, where his amendment will -- it appears -- be offiered on Wednesday, May 11.
On repeated occasions, when asked in congressional testimony -- both before the Senate on Dec. 3, 2010, and the House earlier this year -- service chiefs have said that they believe such additional certification language is unnecessary.
Human Rights Campaign vice president for communications Fred Sainz tells Metro Weekly, "This is the school yard equivalent of a 'do-over.' It's just plain wrong. Republicans didn't get their way when the issue was heard last year so now their trying to remake history. It won't work."
He continued, "This is misguided effort that Republicans should approach advisedly for these reasons: 1) to the American public, this is a settled issue. Re-opening the issue will be a total disconnect to an issue that the American public overwhelmingly support. It will come across as exactly what it is: sour grapes; 2) the defense secretary and joint chiefs chairman are opposed to it; and 3) this sideshow is completely at odds with the Republican priorities of jobs and the economy. We'll make sure that everyone knows this is a complete deviation from the stated priority."