Retired General Hugh Shelton, the
former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is not ready to back
repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bans open
Speaking Sunday on ABC's This Week,
Shelton said the decision should be up to the combat soldiers, who
are currently being asked their thoughts on repeal in a military
survey due out in December.
“If the men and women in uniform at
the fighting level, particular Marines and Army, say, you know, 'It
doesn't make any difference to us,' and therefore it won't break the
readiness of our great armed forces …” he tells Christiane
Amanpour, who interrupts to ask why Shelton believes open gay service
would be disruptive to the U.S. military considering other nations
with great armies allow gay troops to serve openly and gives the
examples of France, Canada and Israel.
Shelton agrees, but adds, “If you
check the historical records, Christiane, as you know we've never
lost to any of them. We are the top of the power. We are the best
in the world. And we want to stay that way.”
“And if this policy is related to
combat readiness,” Shelton says. “See these guys, these
individuals, don't go home at night, its not the corporate world.
You and I can go home at night. We live our own lives, etcetera.
These individuals are in tents, they are in barracks, they fight for
one another – who's on the left, who's on the right. I think it's
extremely important that we find out from them whether or not this is
going to change why they fight.”
“If it does, we got a problem. If it
doesn't, then we'll proceed,” he said.
to the survey's use of the outmoded word “homosexual” to describe
gay men and lesbians, and its overwhelming focus on the potential
drawbacks of repeal, leading groups lobbying for repeal have called
the survey biased against gay troops.