Defense leaders laud DADT repeal, return of equality

| September 29, 2011 | 0 Comments
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (left) and U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conduct a press briefing about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” at the Pentagon, Sept. 20. (Mass Communication Spc. 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley | Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (left) and U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conduct a press briefing about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” at the Pentagon, Sept. 20. (Mass Communication Spc. 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley | Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters, here, Sept. 20, the official end of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law reflects American values that military members uphold.

“Thanks to this change, I believe we move closer to achieving the goal at the foundation of the values that America’s all about — equality, equal opportunity and dignity for all Americans,” Panetta said.

Panetta reaffirmed his dedication to ensuring everyone who wishes to serve has the opportunity to do so, regardless of sexual preference.

“I am committed to removing all of the barriers that would prevent Americans from serving their country and from rising to the highest level of responsibility that their talents and capabilities warrant,” he said. “These are men and women who put their lives on the line in the defense of this country, and that’s what should matter the most.”

The Department of Defense is ready to make this change consistent with standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and with recruiting and retention of the armed forces, he said.

“All of the service chiefs have stated very clearly that all of these elements have been met in the review that they conducted,” Panetta said. “(More than) 97 percent of our 2.3 million men and women in uniform have now received education and training on (the) repeal.”

Panetta lauded Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his commitment to the repeal of the 1993 law.

“His courageous testimony and leadership on this issue, I think, were major factors in bringing us to this day,” Panetta said. “And he deserves a great deal of credit for what has occurred.”

Mullen said repealing the law was the right thing to do.

“It was time to end this law and this policy,” he said. “I still believe that it was, first and foremost, a matter of integrity.

“It was fundamentally against everything we stand for as an institution, to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform,” Mullen added. “We are better than that.”

The chairman said the repeal will strengthen the DOD and emphasize positive values.

“With implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant force, a force of more character and more honor, (a force) more in keeping with our own values,” he said.

Mullen also emphasized DOD is well prepared for implementation of the repeal.

“I am convinced we did the work necessary to prepare for this change, that we adequately trained and educated our people, and that we took into proper consideration all the regulatory and policy modifications that needed to be made,” he said. “Today is really about every man and woman (in uniform) who serves this country, regardless of how they define themselves.”

Panetta said the long-awaited repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” brings the nation closer to true equality.

“Thanks to this change, we move closer to achieving the goal that is at the foundation of American values — equality and dignity for all,” he said.

 

Tags: ,

Category: Army News Service, Leadership, News

Leave a Reply

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