Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Know, Can't Say

Don't Ask, Don't Tell appears to be on the way to repeal following today's vote in the Senate. I haven't written much about this issue because we're talking about topics that are beyond my ken. I've not gay and I haven't served in the military. I have no way of knowing whether or not having openly gay soldiers will affect morale, unit cohesion and the like. And truth be told, neither do the partisans on either side of this very long debate. One would assume that in the modern volunteer military, where professionalism is a given, they will be able to make the necessary adjustments, if any are necessary.

There are a lot of things we don't know, actually.
  • Has DADT kept people from joining? Probably, but it's not as though the Army has had an active recruiting station in the Castro District or on Halsted Street. Perhaps they will start recruiting there and perhaps there will be success.
  • Will the addition of gay soldiers hurt recruiting in other areas? Again, we don't really know. Questions of this sort have been theoretical up to now.
  • Would gay soldiers be sexually aggressive? I kinda doubt that. There are rules against that sort of thing among heterosexual soldiers and most likely those rules could be and most likely will be extended to gay soldiers. Unit cohesion necessitates a lot of self-denial in any event.
  • Will the abolition of DADT mean a better reception for military recruiters on college campuses? One would hope so. We'll find that out soon enough. It will also be interesting to see if ROTC chapters return to places like Harvard and Yale.

In the end, this change may not move the needle much at all. Our military has responded to a great variety of challenges in its history. If you haven't done so, I'd highly recommend you read Imperial Grunts, the 2005 book written by Robert Kaplan, which details military operations all over the world and the astonishing variety of assignments we give our uniformed personnel. It is one of the greatest blessings of our nation that we have a military that is thoroughly professional and under civilian control. I don't know how, or if, today's changes will affect the military we now have. But I have a lot of faith in the men and women who wear the uniform.


Gino said...

i say repeal DADT, and leave it up the services to decide the behavorial matters of its membership, just like they do with any # of other issues and/or potential issues.

Bike Bubba said...

With regards to behavior in the military, it's worth noting that "Foxfier" has some very relevant stories about what has happened with the inclusion of women in previously male-only bastions. Suffice it to say that behavior is not always professional, to put it mildly, and if some of the new soldiers were putting notches on their bedposts, they'd end up with a pile of sawdust within weeks.

So no, I cannot just assume that the rules which will be set up will not increase the sexual free for all that exists in many places in the military. That said, it's a fact that....there is a sexual free for all already in many places.