‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ surveys service members

| July 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — Survey responses on the possible repeal of the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military will allow leaders to make informed decisions, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Monday.

Morrell said many stories that have resulted from advocacy groups leaking a 103-question survey, e-mailed this week to 400,000 service members, “have been inflammatory in the worst case, and misleading in the best case.”

Defense Department officials wanted the survey to remain confidential, Morrell said, but the distribution of the survey to 200,000 active duty service members and 200,000 reserve component personnel worked against that aim.

The survey was designed to be a confidential conversation between the Defense Department working group studying the matter and a large representative sample of the force, he said.

“We thought it would be breaking faith with them for us to be proactively sharing the survey,” Morrell said, “because what we are trying to do is preserve the credibility and integrity of the answers that it elicits from the force.”

Outside influence is not helpful to the process, he said.

The survey is designed to get the attitudes of the force on how to proceed if Congress repeals the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, and is not a referendum on whether or not the law should be repealed, Morrell said. The answers will inform the working group’s deliberations.

Pentagon officials worked with a professional and reputable polling firm to produce the survey. Roughly, the first third of the 103 questions seeks demographic information. The second third asks about professional and military experience. The final third asks how the law’s repeal might affect the individual being surveyed.

The working group, led by Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, already has spoken with 14,000 service members, Morrell said. Another 33,000 service members have interacted with the department electronically.

Of the responses to date, he said, many included concerns about privacy issues. 

“Clearly,” Morell said, “a component of this scientific survey had to deal with privacy questions.”

Ten survey questions address privacy issues surrounding bathing facilities, living facilities and social settings.

“We think it would be irresponsible to conduct a survey that didn’t address these questions, because when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed, we will have to determine if there are any challenges in those particular areas, any adjustments that need to be made in terms of how we educate the force, or perhaps even facility adjustments that need to be made to deal with those scenarios,” Morrell said. 

“But we won’t know any of that until we get a sense from the force of their attitudes. It could turn out, based on this survey, that there are far fewer concerns than we are led to believe,” he said.

Category: Army News Service, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *