A new report by four retired flag officers representing each military branch—including retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Minter Alexander who was in charge of USAF’s manpower and personnel policy in the early 1990s—calls on Congress to repeal the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” law on gays serving in the military and return authority for personnel policy to the Department of Defense. “Evidence shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline, or cohesion,” the four officers write. The Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara sponsored the bipartisan study, which, in addition to Alexander, is authored by Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (USA, Ret.), Vice Adm. Jack Shahahan (USN, Ret.), and Brig. Gen. Hugh Aitken (USMC, Ret.). According to the center, the report marks the first time that a Marine Corps general officer [i.e., Aitken] has ever called publicly for an end to the policy. The Associated Press reported July 7 that Alexander favors repealing the law because it assumes the existence of gays in the military is disruptive to units even though cultural attitudes are changing. Concurrent with the report, the center released a statement signed by 52 retired generals and admirals calling for an end to the law. It is the largest list of its kind to date, the center said. In June, Sam Nunn, former Democratic Senator from Georgia, said the Pentagon should reexamine don’t ask-don’t tell. Nunn was instrumental in establishing the law.
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.