President Obama has signed the Don’t Ask Don’t tell repeal and it is now the law of the land. What is the impact of this historic legislation? Is this a great civil rights milestone or will it lead to homosexualization of the military? The answer is neither. Despite all of the hoopla the law will have little immediate effect. The fact is that military readiness has been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness with little real benefit to the homosexual military member. At best, this is a pyrrhic victory for the homosexual community.
What is the immediate impact of the repeal? Nothing! President Obama’s signature does not mean that homosexuals will be allowed to serve openly now or in the immediate future. The law will not even take effect until the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chefs of Staff consider a report concerning implementation strategies and prepare the necessary regulations to implement the law. Additionally, the President, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs Chairman must certify that implementation "is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces." Who knows when that will occur.
Revision to military regulations takes time. The Defense Department must revise several personnel regulations. Once these directives have been rewritten, the individual service Secretaries must rewrite their manuals to comply with the new DOD regulation. Individual administrative commands must then rewrite their regulations. Sensitivity and command climate groups at each major headquarters must be established or expanded. Training will have to be devised and held throughout the services. Compliance reports will be completed and submitted up the chain of command. Only then can the military hierarchy accurately say that the program is ready for implementation.
I think the military will make an honest effort to implement the law but it will not be easy. We are dealing with human beings, after all, and all of their various beliefs and prejudices. Racial integration was ordered in the 1940's but true acceptance took decades. In the late 1960's racial stress resulted in riots aboard Navy carriers and racial tensions continued well into the 1970's and 80's. Gender integration was done progressively, starting in the 1970's, but gender equality has not yet been achieved. Tension from gender discrimination contributed to Tailhook and other less publicized sexual scandals. Allegations of fraternization and sexual harassment are still made on a routine basis. Over half of the fifteen Navy Commanding Officers fired in 2010 were accused of sexual offenses such as fraternization, sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior, which is often a code word for sexual misconduct. Resentment at orientation integration will surface whenever a homosexual makes a real or perceived pass at a heterosexual in a crowded tent, berthing compartment, barracks or shower. Uneasy heterosexuals will react, sometimes violently, to what they perceive to be undesired sexual approaches. Disciplinary complaints by persons of both orientations will increase causing more investigations, courts-martial and discharges.
Ironically, the new law may not make much difference to homosexual soldiers, sailors or airmen. The repeal specifically prohibits same sex spouses from being eligible for any military benefits. Nor can anyone file suit to seek reinstatement from a previous discharge. The repeal specifically states that no private cause of action is created.
Most peculiar of all, homosexual conduct is still illegal under the new law! Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (10 U.S.C. § 925) specifically prohibits "unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex." Unnatural carnal copulation includes oral or anal sex. It will take another act of Congress to repeal or modify this statute.
Despite all of the turmoil on both sides, homosexuals can serve but they cannot have sex. "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" has morphed into "Tell Us But Stay Celibate." Was this an oversight or a bait and switch? It is certainly not the outcome that the homosexual lobby thought it was. It appears to me that Congress has sold a bill of goods for political purposes at the expense of military readiness. In other words, this was a lose/lose proposition for everyone.
As a result of the President’s decision to cancel land based missile defense and shift responsibilities to shipboard systems, the Navy is moving warships into the Persian Gulf to guard against an Iranian missile threat. While the Navy’s Standard Missile (SM-3) system coupled with the Aegis radar has performed admirably, the Obama plan over-tasks the system and forces it into situations for which it was never designed.
Properly positioned along any threat axis, Navy ships present an effective threat to ballistic missiles. Due to size limitations, however, the radar acquisition system and its interceptor missiles are range restricted. While the Navy system is a formidable defense in a limited geographic area, outside of its radar and missile envelope, the system is useless.
Land based missiles have larger radar systems. The missiles themselves have an extended range and carry a bigger payload. Storage facilities are larger and reloading capability is much more efficient. With a larger detection and kill envelope, land based systems allow for multiple shots at the incoming missile. Land bases are also cheaper to build than warships.
Aegis ships are primarily designed to defend Carriers and Amphibious Strike Groups in a multi-threat environment, provide gunfire support to expeditionary forces, conduct surveillance, search and rescue, etc. These missions will be compromised or degraded if several ships are diverted to the Persian Gulf. The need to rotate ships through the deployment and maintenance cycles requires several Aegis Cruiser/Destroyer hulls to be dedicated to this operation. Today’s Navy is half the size of its Cold War counterpart. Simply speaking, we cannot afford to divert these ships from their primary missions.
Additionally ships in the Persian Gulf are susceptible to attack. Cruisers and Destroyers are deigned for open ocean blue water operations where they have room to maneuver. The Persian Gulf is a shallow restricted waterway. When entering or exiting through the Strait of Hormuz, the ships’ crews have their attention focused on a narrow channel with tricky winds and currents. While concentrating on the navigation problem, the ship is very vulnerable to attack.
The geography of the Persian Gulf complicates the problem. Once into the Gulf, United States ships are also forced to transit and patrol along the western portion of the waterway. The Iranians claim sovereignty over a number of islands in the Gulf, which requires the American ships to steer to the west. Under international law, warships cannot pass within twelve nautical miles of these islands. As a matter of policy American ships give them an even wider passage. This also reduces the ability of the ships to maneuver.
Aegis Cruisers and Destroyers are at their best when they are in front of the target. Incoming missiles approaching at virtually the same target angle allow for follow-up salvos. In the Gulf, missiles launched from Northern Iran towards Israel will pass at a right angle, forcing a cross shot. The ship will be limited in the number of interceptor missiles they can fire. If the Iranians launch a multi-missile salvo, the American missiles may quickly find themselves in a tail chase as the enemy missiles pass out of range.
The Iranians have a moderate multi threat anti-ship capability. This includes surface to surface missiles, fighter bombers and quiet Kilo Class diesel submarines capable of laying on the shallow bottom undetected until an American ship passes. Additionally they possess a number of fast attack boats manned by the Revolutionary Guard capable of carrying anti ship missiles. These boats can also be used to ram a larger ship such as occurred with the U.S.S Cole. This exposes the ships to a surface, subsurface and air threat which could overwhelm shipboard defenses. The sailors countering these threats would be same people trying to shoot down a ballistic missile. Missiles launched against Israel at the same time as a combined arms attack against the ships could sneak past them.
The Navy has a place in the strategic and tactical anti-missile environment. The entire burden of theater ballistic missile defense should not fall on the Navy’s shoulders, however. Proper funds must be made available to develop and deploy land based systems. The ballistic missile threat, especially if topped with nuclear warheads is substantial. We need to foster a comprehensive and effective defense that works the first time. We cannot afford to get this one wrong.
John Wells is a proven leader and tirelessly works to defend the United States.