November 24, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Gates, others to testify next week on ‘Don’t Ask’

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is set to testify next week on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday announced two days of hearings next week on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that are set to include testimony from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

In a notice, the committee announced it would hold hearings on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3. regarding the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” working group report, which is now scheduled for release on Tuesday. The hearings on both days are set to take place in Room SD-G50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and are scheduled to begin at 9 am. 

For the Dec. 2 hearing, the witnesses are set to include Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen as well as the co-chairs of the Pentagon working group: Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, and Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe. 

In February testimony before the committee, Mullen has said he supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the U.S. military. Gates has already told reporters that he wants Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 

On Dec. 3, the committee is set to hear testimony from Vice-Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright and the military service chiefs: Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead; Marine Corps Gen. James Amos; and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz. 

In May, the military service chiefs sent a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to hold off on legislative action on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until the Pentagon report is complete. 

Both Roughead and Schwartz have since praised the Pentagon report, and Roughead has said he’s eager to see what happens on Capitol Hill as a result of the findings. Amos has said he continues to oppose “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. 

On Monday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he thinks holding hearings on the report would “be a boost” to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the lame duck session of Congress. 

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said he generally agrees with Levin that hearings would be beneficial to repeal efforts, but expressed concern about hearing testimony over a two-day period.

“We’re in a period now where literally every day counts,” Nicholson said. “If they’re holding hearings on Friday, that, I think, runs the risk of bumping off the motion to reconsider until Monday of the following week, which would be a strain on the calendar.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Pentagon report would be set for release on Monday.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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