The Pentagon on Friday officially unveiled an implementation plan for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that focuses on policy, education and training and communication as the way forward in lifting the military’s gay ban.
In a redacted memorandum dated Feb. 10, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Clifford Stanley provides the military service secretaries with the repeal plan and pledges to work with them to “solidify the format of progress updates as well as the frequency of leadership meets.”
The four-page memo states that the secretaries have until March 1 to provide their first progress update to Stanley.
Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tasked Stanley with devising a plan by Feb. 4 to “facilitate the timely and orderly realization” of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
The plan breaks down the path for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal into four stages: pre-repeal, certification, implementation and sustainment.
In the pre-repeal phase, activities include Tier 1 and Tier 2 level training of military leadership and reporting to Obama administration officials on the progress of implementation. For example, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness must have a monthly meeting and report to the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the status of repeal.
To reach the certification phase, the Repeal Implementation Team must provide appropriate documentation to the defense secretary and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and provide their recommendation to the president.
President Obama signed legislation allowing for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal on Dec. 22, but the new law won’t take effect until the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify the military is ready. Additionally, after certification takes place, a 60-day waiting period must pass before the ban is formally lifted.
Notably, the plan states the previously mentioned idea that Tier 3 training, education of the total force, can be completed after the certification for repeal is issued.
For the implementation phase, Tier 3 training will be completed and the Repeal Implementation Team will provide progress reports every two months to Pentagon leaders.
The sustainment phase involves making policy changes as needed and refining the education and training process.
Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the Defense Department intends to issue commanders in the field with the education and training tools on the post-repeal environment.
“The training materials were developed based upon the [Pentagon working group's] Support Plan for Implementation (SIP), and packaged in such a way to facilitate low bandwidth and non-traditional training settings and include power point slides with narration, scripts, FAQs, vignettes, policy documents, etc.,” she said.
Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the repeal implementation plan “lays out a comprehensive and deliberate path forward for implementing this policy change throughout the force.”
“In typical military fashion, the plan is quite thorough and some steps may seem unnecessary or redundant, but overall we believe this plan continues to show a good faith effort on the part of the Department of Defense to swiftly move forward with training, certification, and repeal,” Nicholson said.
Download a copy of the Pentagon plan here.