President Obama last week signed the document certifying to Congress that the Defense Department has met the requirements for repeal of the 1993 “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy. This started the 60-day countdown that, on Sept. 20, will end the ban on homosexuals openly serving in the US military, per the repeal law that he enacted last December. “I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention, and military effectiveness,” stated Obama July 22 upon announcing the certification. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the certification came “after receiving input from the service Chiefs, service Secretaries, and from all the combatant commanders, who stated their views that the force is prepared for this change.” In a joint statement, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, and CMSAF James Roy said the Air Force “stands ready to implement this change with the same unparalleled professionalism we have demonstrated with every transformation that we have undertaken in peace and war.” (Obama statement) (See also White House blog entry and repeal certification.) (Panetta statement) (Joint Chiefs Chairman statement) (Pentagon briefing transcript.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.