Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Let's just settle this up front - I have not served in the military, and as I approach my 45th birthday, it appears vanishingly unlikely that I shall. Beat up as I am, I suspect they would need to be relatively desperate before I got the gilt-edged invitation. Nigh on 25 years ago..I nearly joined, but was effectively deterred by the, um, harsher policies of that era on the matter.

I suspect a tour of service would likely have my younger self a fair amount of good, and I did want to serve. Coincidentally, for those new to this blog (joining my three regular readers, and yes, I know, I really should write more often) I am, in fact, an adult male of the fey persuasion.

That said and my starting point established. Let us sally forth and discuss DADT...

In 1993, "Don't ask, Don't tell" was the Clinton-era successor to the numerous previous iterations of counterproductive policies. A step forward, it remained a long way from equality, efficiency, or sanity - but as a politically driven measure, it was the least bad measure - even as it codified a culture of deceit and blackmail in our military.

DADT resulted, as had its' prior iterations, in the waste of military resources (training is NOT free), damaged lives, and a fair amount of controversy and wheel-spinning that served absolutely nobody well. Sometimes this sort of half-step is politically politically necessary, but it is seldom ever good for the folks at the business end of affairs.

Now talk is being heard of going forward towards equality, and "how do we do it". History has a lot to teach us about "How NOT to do it", and a few hints on possible approaches as well.

"How not to do it" pretty much includes anything not based in a strict meritocracy. Any system that operates on any other principle (say, "making up for past wrongs") will merely create resentment in the ranks, and worse, undermine the authority and respect for LGBT folks who *are* promoted or hold positions of responsibility.

I'd argue there are pretty much two viable approaches to integrating openly serving LGBT folks.

1) Full Out. Bright'n'shiny one morning, DADT vanishes, and LGBT folk may serve openly in the ranks. (option - give a thirty day window for current service members who are *just horrified* to bail, after the window, UCMJ addresses assaults on fellow service members well) and apply standard fraternization rules as needed.

2) Scream twice. Acknowledge the world is a deeply imperfect place. Implement "open and accepting units" with a slightly higher rate of pay in all services. Assign *all* new recruits to the "open and accepting" units and transfer folks in the old-style units to the new either on request or when it becomes apparent they are practicing members of the LGBT community. Anti-fraternization rules still apply.

I think (2) is both less desirable and more practical, unfortunately, given both political and military reality. It's a longer road, but I think it is more sustainable and less damaging to our current military posture - and more likely to avoid the pitfalls of affirmative action and all its' accompanying headaches.

Revisions possible. Written w/o Caffeine. Errors and poor phrasing should be blamed on said lack.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

An interesting set of options GC- sadly I don't think EITHER one will be implemented... Bad policy tends to follow bad policy especially when the PC crowd gets their paws on an 'issue' they can push... I'll link your post from mine.