Why Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Should be Left Alone

February 8, 2010

I’ve been asked a lot lately how, as a Marine, I feel about the possible repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in effect for the military.

Last night, I attended an event hosted by Jay Riemersma, where I had the opportunity to discuss a number of current issues with Jay and with several other great people  interested in my take on the situation as a member of the Armed Services Community. Here is the summary of my thoughts on the matter.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has never been more than a political game. Yes, there are gays in the military. Everyone knows this. No you are not allowed to flaunt your sexual preference in the face of everyone you work with. Do what you want to do in the privacy of your own home, but leave it there.

A common phrase we use when deciding what information to share is, “Need to know.” Quite frankly, whether you’re gay or not, I don’t need to know.

The military is not passing judgement on whether homosexuality is right or wrong. DADT is in place to prevent dissension and prejudice, and maintain unit cohesion. An issue such as this is an emotional hot button, and has the potential to cause a lot of strife among service members.

We have a rigid structure of discipline that allows us to be the single greatest fighting force in the world. We do not have time to let political games interfere with the performance of our duties. DADT was designed to prevent conflict among service members. As an NCO, it is my job to bring my Marines together, as a unit, and train them to operate as one. If we focus on our differences, we could never accomplish this.

So I would ask that everyone kindly leave your politics at the gate, we don’t have time for these shenanigans. We have two wars to fight, and need to remain ever vigilant against the threat of terrorism that our nation faces everyday. One would think that with all the nation’s ills at present, there would be more important things to worry about.

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8 Responses to “Why Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Should be Left Alone”

  1. ianganderson Says:

    It doesn’t matter that you didn’t allow my comment to be posted–just so you know where you stand.


  2. @ian

    “Quaint, but incorrect. Read a few Winter Soldier testimonials, such as this one…”

    Seriously? You’re going to cite one reference source, and draw a sweeping conclusion that this is what happens everyday? You really need to read books from something other than the Communist Reading List. There are hundreds of examples of where Marines and soldiers have displayed tactical patience and risked their lives to save civilians.

    Look at what’s going on in Marjah, Helmand Province (that’s in Afghanistan, btw) as I type this. The Marines have given advanced notice of an attack, giving the civilian populace time to evacuate, and are ordered to “hold their fire until absolutely certain they are not shooting civilians. This is definitely NOT in the Marines’ favor, as the element of surprise is gone, allowing the Taliban forces time to prepare their defense.

    Your comment was so ignorant, and your viewpoint so narrow that you have officially reached “troll” status.

  3. ianganderson Says:

    I haven’t served in the military, and I thank my better judgment every day that I wasn’t suckered into it with the lies and empty, illegal threats of military recruiters (not that I wasn’t contacted by recruiters up until I graduated college). If I had served, and taken part in the illegal and immoral disastrous invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan, I would have ended my life.

    “If you think that a bunch of 18-21 year old kids, fresh out of high school from all over the country and all different walks of life are issued maturity when they enlist, you are delusional.”

    If they aren’t mature, what on earth are they doing policing a foreign population? What on earth are they doing with advanced weapons systems? What on earth are they doing with the power of life and death over a people who are even more alien and foreign to them than homosexuals are?

    Here’s a thought: if they can’t handle being near homosexuals, they have no business being given what amounts to free reign as occupiers (military justice is at this point a complete joke–the military cannot effectively police itself).

    “Enemy combatants know they’re taking on the “single greatest fighting force in the world”. In an arena where most of the combatants refuse to put on a uniform and instead hide behind/among women and children, indeed the women and children often aid them, it’s hard to be certain there is such a creature as “an innocent noncombatant”. Our troops do a d*** good job of giving them the benefit of the doubt and sparing their lives…more than ANY OTHER FIGHTING FORCE IN HISTORY HAS EVER DONE AND RISKING THEIR OWN LIVES TO DO IT! The guys hiding in civilian clothes take advantage of our compassion and use it against us. We know that and still choose to be cautious. We treat the battlefield more as a court of law rather than what it is: a battlefield in WAR. We are not the greedy, bloodthirsty warmongers and imperialists that politicians and the media make us out to be.”

    Quaint, but incorrect. Read a few Winter Soldier testimonials, such as this one:

    “While on tank patrol through the narrow streets of Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, Pfc. Clifton Hicks was given an order. Abu Ghraib had become a “free-fire zone,” Hicks was told, and no “friendlies” or civilians remained in the area. “Game on. All weapons free,” his captain said. Upon that command, Hicks’s unit opened a furious fusillade, firing wildly into cars, at people scurrying for cover, at anything that moved. Sent in to survey the damage, Hicks found the area littered with human and animal corpses, including women and children, but he saw no military gear or weapons of any kind near the bodies. In the aftermath of the massacre, Hicks was told that his unit had killed 700-800 “enemy combatants.” But he knew the dead were not terrorists or insurgents; they were innocent Iraqis. “I will agree to swear to that till the day I die,” he said. “I didn’t see one enemy on that operation.””

    What was that about the benefit of the doubt again?

    “So, ianganderson, when your time in uniform is over, come on back to the discussion. Until then, if you don’t feel you can stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.”

    Threats, certainly a mark of maturity. Throw in a few racist slurs towards Iraqis and I would believe that you had served.

  4. Justathought Says:

    There is no greater opponent in the world of gays in the military than me. Gays already get a legal double-standard in civilian life, why in the hell should they fight to preserve it? If straights want to go fight and die for that, let them. Gays shouldn’t be a part of that.


  5. @ian

    Thanks for your comments. I have a few of my own, if you will.

    “If you honestly feel that members of the U.S. military are not mature enough to handle a repeal of DADT, then they are in serious need of better training (in fact only 40% of soldiers have had sensitivity training to this end).”

    This is the fundamentally flawed thinking of those outside the military community that just don’t understand what our mission is. We do not need more “sensitivity training.” We are a FIGHTING force, not a college fraternity.

    The better training we should, and have, been focusing is on how to defeat our enemies. People need to understand that the military is a subculture of the American culture. We have different mindsets, different values, and different laws. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but this culture separation is indisputably necessary. What’s contradictory is wanting our military to be sensitive, yet be able to kill the enemy.

    That is a whole separate novel in and of itself. I would encourage you to read a book called “On Killing” by Lt Col Dave Grossman if you truly want to try to understand this complex issue.

    “… you should be ashamed for thinking so little of your fellow soldiers that you would presume that the presence of open homosexuals would send them all into a hateful tailspin.”

    This is just ridiculous and antagonistic. I won’t completely take the bait, but I will add that nowhere in my post did I use the word “all” or “hateful”. If you think that a bunch of 18-21 year old kids, fresh out of high school from all over the country and all different walks of life are issued maturity when they enlist, you are delusional.

    As a unit leader, I have to take this amalgam of races, classes, and religious beliefs, and focus them to one goal. That goal is to accomplish the given mission, and keep each other alive.

    In closing, I do have a point. You just seem to have missed it completely.

  6. MamaTod Says:

    ianganderson has obviously never served. The military’s purpose is not about feelings and sensitivity training. Its purpose is to defend our nation and our interests (itself a legitimate subject for debate). Their training should be focused on how to accomplish those goals with the least loss of life for either themselves or civilians. And the FIRST place for respect to be shown is to their fellow soldiers/sailors,/airmen/Marines, not the Iraqis or Afghanis or Russians, or(fill in the blank). What earns respect? The ability to do your job well. This is not the place to plumb the depths of each person’s feelings and sexual orientation. Lives are on the line…can they fight? The gays in the military who can fight will have respect. The ones who can’t, won’t…EXACTLY the same test as everyone else passes or fails. Isn’t that what they want? Equality? Can they fight? All the rest is irrelevant.

    Enemy combatants know they’re taking on the “single greatest fighting force in the world”. In an arena where most of the combatants refuse to put on a uniform and instead hide behind/among women and children, indeed the women and children often aid them, it’s hard to be certain there is such a creature as “an innocent noncombatant”. Our troops do a d*** good job of giving them the benefit of the doubt and sparing their lives…more than ANY OTHER FIGHTING FORCE IN HISTORY HAS EVER DONE AND RISKING THEIR OWN LIVES TO DO IT! The guys hiding in civilian clothes take advantage of our compassion and use it against us. We know that and still choose to be cautious. We treat the battlefield more as a court of law rather than what it is: a battlefield in WAR. We are not the greedy, bloodthirsty warmongers and imperialists that politicians and the media make us out to be.

    So, ianganderson, when your time in uniform is over, come on back to the discussion. Until then, if you don’t feel you can stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

  7. ianganderson Says:

    “DADT is in place to prevent dissension and prejudice, and maintain unit cohesion. An issue such as this is an emotional hot button, and has the potential to cause a lot of strife among service members.”

    You immediately contradict this statement with your next sentence. If you honestly feel that members of the U.S. military are not mature enough to handle a repeal of DADT, then they are in serious need of better training (in fact only 40% of soldiers have had sensitivity training to this end).

    This is a boilerplate argument, and you should be ashamed for thinking so little of your fellow soldiers that you would presume that the presence of open homosexuals would send them all into a hateful tailspin.

    One last comment: “the single greatest fighting force in the world” is a funny name to call a group of people with the following self-admitted opinions:

    “Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured “an innocent noncombatant.””

    Maybe you have a point: if they don’t even respect Iraqis well enough to treat them with dignity and respect, how can we expect them to do so with homosexuals who have the temerity to leave the closet?


  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim White and Dennis Lake, Robert M. Pope. Robert M. Pope said: RT @timwhitehomes: Why Don't Ask, Don't Tell Should be Left Alone: http://wp.me/pu95N-1W (oorah!) […]


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