Tuesday, April 05, 2011





Turning to the US, last week Lewis Griswold (Fresno Bee) reported on 26-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Morado who was facing a discharge hearing. GetEQUAL has this action alert. Ashley Ritchie (KMPH) reported Friday that Morado was not discharged. While he wasn't discharged, Don't Ask, Don't Tell remains law: "In fact, a navy spokesperson tells KMPH News, the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy has to be certified by the Secretary of Defense, Chairman and President. After that, it will take another 60 days before it goes into effect." Joseph Neese (RNN) notes Morado isn't the only one who will face a discharge hearing and Pentagon spokesperson Eileen Lainez states, "The law commonly known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' remains in effect until 60 days following certification." And will it be certified?
Nothing is a done deal until it is, in fact, done. Friday we concentrated (in the snapshot) on the protests in Iraq and I had to hold off on a Congressional hearing. A DADT hearing took place and there's another this week so we'll squeeze Friday's into this snapshot.
"It is now essential that the Congress ask some of the questions that were glossed over during the comprehensive review. We must get the process for considering the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell back on track and ensure that our military is truly prepared to allow the open service of gays and lesbians," declared Joe Wilson Chair of the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel in his opening remarks. Wilson objected to the fact that Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation took place in the lame duck session. The Subcommittee heard from the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Vice Adm William Gortney and DoD's Clifford L. Stanley.
In his questioning Wilson touched on many topics that would appear to indicate his opposition. "How will you know the troops in the field believe they're prepared to cope with the complications that will follow?" he wondered at one point. At another, he wanted to know how chaplain's would be protected. (I'm avoiding a cheap shot there -- feel free to insert your own.) . US House Rep Susan Davis is the Ranking Member. In reply to her questions, Stanley said that "to date" there had been no visible impact on recruitment. Stanley then tossed to Gortney for further remarks.
Vice Admiral William Gortney: Once again, all of the subjective assessment from the commanders have been that the training has gone well. None of the issues that have come up were not things that we were not already aware of as a result of the survey that was out there that we were then able to tailor the training to to then answer. So thus far, no surprises. uh, and we're pretty pleased with where we are. And, again, 90% of the force has been trained.
"Bottom line," Stanley would note after Gortney, "is that the training has been very effective, and we've been very pleased with what we're seeing but our antenna our up because this is not a rushed process and we want to be deliberate and purposeful in doing this."
Ranking Member Susan Davis: The Army, as I understand it, is going to be the last to conclude their training and I wonder what timeline you would expect then, if they do do meet their deadline, what is the timeline that you would expect the President, the Secretary [of Defense] and the Joint-Chief [of Staff], that they could actually send that certification to Congress? Have you looked at that and what we might be looking at here in terms of a timeline?
Vice Admiral William Gortney: Yes, ma'am. As-as the Secretary said, we anticipate about mid-summer in order to meet the completion of the preponderance of the force to be trained and the regulations to be in there and to get the recommendations from the service secretaries and the service chiefs to the -- to the Chairman. That deadline is really a function of the Army in order to get, just because of the size of the force and to include the Reserves and the National Guard in that, that's really the long goal there. And it's just a function of numbers that have to be trained.
Davis (and many other Democrats) spoke in terms of "where are we in the process"; however, that was not the case with the Republicans. US House Rep Mike Coffman objected to the fact that he had requested data "and I think that that was not provided until about a month after the vote and I want to say for the record that I think that was intentional." Combat personnel "opposed in greater numbers" a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and if his request on the data had been completed in a timely manner, he believes the discussion would have been different. He registered his objection to a repeal and deemed the findings of the study "a conclusion looking for a study" and objected to repeal because he believes "this is a political decision made by the Executive Branch". In his second round of questioing, he was highly concerned about sleeping arrangements.
Democrat David Loesbsack appeared to be siding with Republicans. (General rule: Watch for those who use "homosexual" and especially when they have a special way of pronouncing the word.) Republican Allen West referred to being gay as "a behavior" -- which, yes, sounds an awful like "a choice" since behavior can be modified. He made one of the strangest remarks in the entire hearing, saying of repeal, "I'm just very worried that this could be the camel getting his nose under the tent." Was that a sexual euphamism? (No, but it might make more sense if it were.) He then brought up the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan (November 5, 2009) and his "disturbing behaviors." Apparently, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell will leave gays and lesbians with itchy trigger fingers? He wondered whether those seeing failures "in the implementation of this program" were "free to speak up"? He fears "a witchunt" because of "social engineering" -- apparently unaware that the witchhunt took place in targeting gays and lesbians to begin with. As usual, US House Rep Niki Tsongas attempted to provide a calming and informed voice.
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: But just to reiterate why we moved to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Since 1993, more than 14,000 gay service members have been discharged under the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. And of these discharges, nearly 1,000 were specialists with vital mission critical skills -- Arab linguists, for example. We hear those figures over and over again. I have always believed that this policy actually threatens the readiness of our military by discharging hundreds of military personnel critical to our national security and shutting the door to thousands more. And it's also unconscionable to maintain a policy when at least 24 other countries including allies such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada and Israel already allow open service by lesbian and gay service members. And that's why I've always strongly supported repeal of this policy. And I concur wholeheartedly with Adm Mike Mullen's distinguished leadership about this issue, his assessment when he stated in his testimony before the Armed Services Committee last year that this policy "forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Undermining a basic tenet of military service which is to be honest.
US House Rep Vicky Hartzler declared, "I'm new, I wasn't here when it passed." She's a Republican who deemed repeal "radical" and thought it would harm "the ability to win wars." (Real quick, what war does she think the US is currently winning? Other than the spending war, of course.) "I'm new, I wasn't here when it passed." Put that with the other statements including Georgia's Austin Scott who was very clearly opposed to repeal and everyone needs to remember a "done deal" isn't done until it's done. Thursday the Subcomittee meets again on this issue. Many comments made Friday by Republicans (and Dems who appeared not to support repeal) appeared to be trial balloons for future lines of attack.
Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to http://www.defense.gov/stoploss.