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Marine Commandant Amos: No Indication of Troop Discomfort with DADT Repeal

The fight over worker’s rights and democracy in the Middle East has obscured some of the fights still hanging out there, such as the struggle for LGBT rights. But there’s been a development on that front. Marine Commandant James Amos was the most forceful among the Armed Services chairs in opposing the measure to end the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy before Congress voted to repeal it legislatively. He went so far as to say it could lead to reduced unit cohesion and unnecessary deaths in the line of duty. We’re still waiting for the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President to certify repeal, and implement it across the military. But Amos is already changing his tune somewhat, based on the early reactions from his Marines:

“I haven’t had any indication yet at all, not at all,” Gen. James Amos told reporters when asked if he expected the mass exodus of troops that Sen. John McCain and other critics predicted if the ban was lifted.

Amos was visiting troops in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when President Barack Obama signed the repeal in late December. He said he addressed some 12,000 Marines about the change and “everyone said, ‘Sir, we got it. We’re going to do this thing.‘”

The about-face by the Marines’ top general came before the ink was dried on the law and was underlined in a video Amos taped with the Corps’ Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent last month. In it, he said the service “will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law. It’s important that we value the diversity of background, culture and skills that all Marines bring to the service of our nation.”

It was juvenile and actually demeaning for leaders like Amos and McCain to suggest that his troops would not be able to display the necessary professionalism after the change in policy. They have been proven wrong, again. And given the speed with which they have backed away from their most vile claims during the debate, it appears they knew how the rank and file would react, and merely made those claims to satisfy their own bigoted policy preferences.

Training has begun at all the armed services to prepare for repeal, and the timelines I’ve seen show final implementation by the end of the summer, though nothing official has been stated.

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David Dayen

David Dayen