The head of the Center for Military Readiness has raised doubts over the Department of Defense's projected timeline for the implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," saying there are too many unanswered questions.
Nearly a month after DADT's repeal, CMR President Elaine Donnelly said a seamless transition into an open military within the year is doubtful.
"There are so many unresolved issues," Donnelly said.
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley and Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright held a meeting Friday, updating the media of its progress in ending the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly.
Secretary Stanley announced that military training will begin in February. He also projected training and implementation will be completed within a year.
"We believe that we can do it within a year. Based on what we know now, we believe that we can do that," said Stanley.
President Barack Obama signed the lame-duck bill overthrowing the 1993 ban on open homosexuality in the U.S. military into law on Dec. 22. Upon signing the law, Obama said, "I've spoken to every one of the service chiefs. They are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently. We're not going to be dragging our feet in this subject."
However, Donnelly doubts the year time frame, saying that neither Stanley nor Cartwright has any answers for integrating homosexuals into the barracks. Donnelly, former member of the Pentagon's Defense advisory Committee on Women in the Services, questions if homosexuals will be able to live with partners and if partners will be allowed to travel with military members?
According to the Pentagon, housing and bathrooms will stay the same, meaning separate bathroom facilities or living quarters based on sexual orientation will not be established.
The DOD's "Comprehensive Review Working Group Report," released in November, does not answer these questions, she said. Donnelly described the report as being "deeply flawed" because it "buries within its pages scores of complicated issues and problems involving human sexuality."
In the report, soldiers' concerns about open homosexuality in a military setting were dismissed as "driven by misperceptions and stereotypes" and "exaggerated."
Report recommendations included strengthening leadership around the issue of homosexuality and training soldiers about displaying professionalism and respect.
During Friday's briefing, Stanley said the goal is for soldiers to complete training in their respective branches within the year. However, he hesitated to set a hard and fast date of completion.
Stanley stated that military branches might experience complications when implementing the training.
"We're going to have some challenges with some people like Army Reserve who are not on active reserve right now," he said.
All military branches are being allowed to proceed at their own pace, Stanley noted.
If every individual is not properly trained, Donnelly predicts the problems associated with an openly gay military will fall on the backs of trainers and field commanders, who must divert valuable time to deal with related issues in the midst of ongoing wars.
She also expects many legal challenges between the military and gay rights lobbyists who want even more rights afforded to them.
The Pentagon said it is not changing eligibility standards at this time for military benefits, such as medical care and housing allowances. Military benefits are not afforded to same-sex couples.
Taking into account all of the unresolved matters and expected continued lobbying, Donelly concluded, "They should have upheld the law [banning open homosexuality in the military] that was already in place."
The Center for Military Readiness is an independent, non-partisan educational organization formed to take a leadership role in promoting sound military personnel policies in the armed forces.