Just one more reason the continued existence of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is incredibly frustrating: a new report says a majority of American troops think repealing the policy would have little effect on their performance.
Ed O'Keefe and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post spoke with sources who'd read the 370-page report, information about which was already leaked to NBC. The report details the results of a survey of 400,000 troops, another survey of 150,000 military spouses, an anonymous online drop-box (to which gay troops were encouraged to submit) and several focus groups. The findings: over 70% of troops surveyed felt that repealing the policy would have a "positive, mixed or nonexistent" effect on the military. O'Keefe and Jaffe write, "The survey results led the report's authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them." The authors also made recommendations for handling the repeal, including allowing gay servicemembers to serve alongside other troops, rather than segregating them, and dealing with complaints on a case-by-case basis.
Not everyone, however, is convinced. The report says 40% of Marines are "concerned" about a possible repeal. And Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Amos says,
There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women — and when you talk of infantry, we're talking about our young men — lying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers. I don't know what the effect of [the repeal] will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion. It's combat effectiveness.
A majority of the American military seems to feel that "sharing death, fear and loss of brothers" actually trumps differences of sexual orientation — but at least as of now, bureaucracy and the valiant efforts of John McCain appear to trump the rights of gay soldiers and the desires of both the military and the American people. One thing, at least, is clear — if DADT stays in place, it won't be because the troops want it that way.