Gates, Mullen welcome repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law
Gates: ‘I will approach this process deliberately …'
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomed the Senate's vote Dec. 18 to repeal the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, while emphasizing that the current law and policy will remain in effect until they and President Barack Obama certify the plan to implement it.
"Once this legislation is signed into law by the president, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully," Gates said in a statement.
The legislation specifies that the repeal will take effect only after Gates, Mullen and Obama certify that new policies and regulations to implement it are "consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and retention of the armed forces," the secretary said.
"As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the services, commands and units," he said.
Mullen said he looks forward to working with Gates and the service chiefs and said he's "committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards."
In the meantime, Gates said it's important that the men and women in uniform understand that, although today's vote means the policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take time.
"In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect," he said.
"Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force," he said. "With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history."
Mullen welcomed legislative over judicial repeal of the law, noting that it "preserves the military's prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner."
He echoed Obama's conviction that repealing the policy is "the right thing to do."
"No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so," the chairman said. "We will be a better military as a result."
(Editor’s note: This story is based on a release by Donna Miles, Armed Forces Press Service.)