July 21, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
UPDATED: Pentagon could announce ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal certification Friday

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said Friday afternoon President Obama will meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen to review the certification of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

UPDATE: Pentagon officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen are prepared to recommend certification to the President Obama perhaps as early as Friday.

Certification for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal will either be announced or take place on Friday, according to mainstream media reports.

According to the Wall Street Journal, top defense officials will certify on Friday that the U.S. military is ready for repeal.

But NBC News has a slightly different take on what will happen. According to that media outlet, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will announce tomorrow that they have already certified repeal. The next step will be for President Obama to add his name to certification.

Under the law signed in December, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be off the books after 60 days pass following certification from the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Troops have undergone training to prepare for open service since February, but certification has yet to take place.

Each member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last week submitted a report to defense leadership on the state on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal training and whether the services were ready for allowing open gays to serve. The content of these reports weren’t made public.

The Washington Blade couldn’t immediately verify media reports that either an announcement for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal certification or the actual certification would take place on Friday. Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said he had “still no updates” on the timing for when certification would happen. A Pentagon spokesperson didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the certification news is welcomed “by gay and lesbian service members who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long.”

“The troops and their commanders are ready,” Sarvis said. “Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead. The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the timing for the reported announcement of certification is within expectations.

“The timing of this announcement is in line with our expectations about Secretary Panetta waiting to settle into his new position at the Pentagon, surveying the landscape, and seeking feedback from his chiefs and commanders before making a move on certification,” Nicholson said. “We are glad to see that just three weeks into his tenure as secretary of defense, he is already confident that this policy change can take place with little or no disruption to military readiness.”

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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