Army Training Slides Outline 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Implementation
WASHINGTON -- The Army has released its marching orders to train soldiers on how military life will look after the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay service members.
In a 30-page PowerPoint presentation obtained by HuffPost, the Army will enumerate for its troops -- from the front lines in Afghanistan to those sitting behind a desk back home -- the basics of how repeal will work, while underscoring that its purpose is "NOT to change beliefs."
All of them hammer home on each page the mandate from Pentagon leaders that change will come with, "Leadership -- Professionalism -- Discipline -- Respect."
The military services began training senior officers, chaplains, lawyers and counselors on the new policy last month. But the bulk of troops will be briefed on how openly gay service members will be integrated over the next few weeks.
The Army, the largest of the services, plans to train its 565,000 active-duty troops by mid-July and 567,000 members of the Guard and Reserve by mid-August.
That isn't fast enough for Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
"We believe training can be wrapped up by the end of next month," Sarvis said, noting that there will be an additional 60 days for training that may take place after the White House and Pentagon leaders certify the military is good to go on repeal.
Among the "guiding principles" laid out in the Army slides: "standards of conduct apply to everyone regardless of sexual orientation," soldiers should "treat each other with dignity and respect" and "there is no expectation to change religious or moral views."
The document also notes that the Defense of Marriage Act, which Democrats in Congress launched a campaign to overturn on Wednesday, will still bar soldiers in legally sanctioned same-sex marriages from receiving spousal medical, housing and other benefits taken for granted by straight service members.
Alex Nicholson, the executive director of the gay-rights group Servicemembers United, said the Army training presentation appeared to be in line with those prepared by the other branches.
"What needs further reinforcing, however, is the notion that other types of rule violations should not be used carelessly to try to trump up charges against gay and lesbian troops, as is being done in one prominent Navy case right now in South Carolina," Nicholson said. "All branches need a stronger emphasis on the fact that 'misconduct' does not have one definition for gay troops and another definition for straight troops."
And for troops who can't stand the new rules? Follow orders anyway. As one slide notes, there is, "No policy for early discharge based on: Opposition to repeal (or) Opposition to serving or living with gay, lesbian or bisexual Service members."