The Defense Department on Monday moved one step closer to allowing transgendered troops to serve openly. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Acting Unders?ecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson will lead a working group tasked with studying the impact of reversing the current policy. The group will be comprised of military and civilian representatives from all the branches and the Joint Staff and “will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified,” said Carter. He also elevated decision authority “in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender” to Carson, who will “make determinations on all potential separations.” Carter acknowledged that transgendered troops who have served admirably, but “in silence,” are “being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that is contrary to our value of service and individual merit.” Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, praised the decision. “All qualified Americans should be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity,” said Broadway-Mack in a statement. “Lifting the ban will dramatically improve the lives of our transgender service members and their families by allowing them to serve authentically.” (Carter statement.) (See also USAF Elevates Discharge Authority for Transgendered Airmen.)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.