Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Thursday that the military will end its ban on gay and bisexual troops serving openly this year.

The military is expected on Friday to unveil its plan on how it will proceed on implementing repeal of “Don't Tell, Don't Tell.”

Congress agreed to end the law during last month's lame-duck session, but implementation won't happen until top Pentagon officials and President Obama certify that the military is ready for the change.

During Tuesday's State of the Union address, Obama told Congress and the nation that the ban would be lifted this year.

“Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love,” Obama said.

Gates agreed, saying, “Yeah, I think we can – we can do that.”

“We don't know how long it'll take to train the entire force, but I'm certain we can get it done this year, and we're shooting to get it done sooner rather than later,” Gates told reporters aboard his plane en route to Ottawa.

Gay service groups have called on the president to quicken the pace of implementation.

After the president's address, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group which lobbied for repeal of the law, urged Obama to end the policy in the first quarter of 2011.