Metro Weekly

Just the Facts

The Who, What, When and Why about the Pentagon's DADT working group

WHAT: On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a ”high-level working group” within the Department of Defense to review ”the issues associated with properly implementing a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”

WHY: The working group is tasked with the following:

1. Reach out to those in the Armed Forces to ”authoritatively understand their views and attitudes” on the effects of a repeal.

2. Determine all the changes to the Department of Defense’s rules and regulations that would be needed as the result of a repeal.

3. Examine the impact of a repeal on military readiness, including ”unit cohesion” and recruitment and retention.

WHO: The co-chairs of the working group are Jeh Johnson, the general counsel for the Department of Defense, and Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Army Europe.

Johnson was a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, based in New York City, before joining the Obama administration and previously served as general counsel for the Air Force during the Clinton administration. A graduate of Columbia Law School, Johnson received the Lawrence A. Wien Prize for Social Responsibility from the school in December 2009 for his ”exemplary efforts on behalf of the public good.” In 1994, when working at the New York law firm, Johnson became the first African-American partner.

Ham has been the commander of U.S. Army Europe since September 2008. Stars & Stripes reported at the time that Ham was ”an enlisted man for a year and among the first group of enlisted soldiers to attend college and then become officers through the ‘Green to Gold’ program in 1974.” At the assumption of his current post, the paper reported that Ham said one of the U.S. military’s strengths is ”the diversity in our ranks.” He previously served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

WHEN: The group is to issue its finding and recommendations by the end of 2010.