I’m sure that Kerry has thought of dozens of ways to ask WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs questions that he cannot weasel out of (which usually results in “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you with an answer” — that means it goes into the black hole). Today she tried again, this time to find out what the status of the review of DADT repeal given the President just said he’s sending 30K troops into Afghanistan when our forces are depleted — and gays and lesbians continue to be discharged.
The Advocate: Some people have analyzed the number of troops available to deploy and said that sending 30,000 troops is tantamount to deploying nearly every U.S. Army brigade possible. Given that about 10,000 soldiers are already in stop-loss, do you know where Defense secretary Gates is with his review of softening the discharges on “don’t ask, don’t tell”?
Robert Gibbs: Well, I have not heard an update from the secretary on that. I know that obviously the president wants that policy changed. In terms of – I mean, obviously it’s not just Army. This is Army and Marines, as well as – well, Army and Marines. They are – this was very specifically asked in terms of whether force flow options would interrupt either Marine or Army policies that have been instituted to give longer breaks for tours of duty and then return home. The Joint Chiefs, to a commander, all told the commander in chief that they could meet the force requirement without interrupting what they had instituted in order to provide that time at home and away from the tour of duty.
The Advocate: But the troops are stretched thin. I mean, it’s not –
Gibbs: No doubt. And I think that the president was very clear in wanting to see the Joint Chiefs to, quite frankly, ask them very directly whether that was the case. There’s no doubt that there has been for many, many years a strain on our forces, that that strain has caused repeated tours. And only recently has Secretary Gates and others instituted policies that ensure that we had time outside of a theater of war and that they believe was necessary to maintain an all-volunteer force, which they think obviously is tremendously important, as well as just dealing with the stress physically and mentally on them.