Admiral Gary Roughead Conversation with Nathaniel Frank at Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing

Air Date: 
February 25, 2010

In a conversation with Dr. Nathaniel Frank today, Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, acknowledged difficulties with the plan to poll U.S. troops on their personal feelings about serving with gays. "We've never assessed the force because it's not our practice to go within our military and poll our force to determine if they like the laws of the land or not," Admiral Roughead told Frank in a discussion immediately following the Admiral's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "That gets you into a very difficult regime."

Here is a transcript of the conversation:

Nathaniel Frank: I'm Nathaniel Frank. I work at the Palm center and we study gays in foreign militaries.  We just put a release out about that and a big report. Is it something that you think is important to look at in terms of what variables may actually be similar to the U.S. even though we grant that the cultures are certainly different?

Admiral Roughead: For sure.  I think that as we do this assessment, we want to look at everything that we can. My point in the testimony is that every military is different than any other military, and as we make serious policy decisions, we have to make sure that we understand the force and that we're making those decisions for the force that will have that policy to deal with. So, that's my point.

Nathaniel Frank: So that for instance, if Britain's polls were found to be non-determinative of problems, that could be a variable, a data point that could be helpful to us?

Admiral Roughead: Well surely. We have looked at the experiences of the other militaries.  And we'll continue to look at the experiences of the other militaries.  We're talking about this military.  And that's why it's so important to understand it.

And we've never done this.  We've never assessed the force because it is not our practice to go within our military and poll our force to determine if they like the laws of the land or not. I mean, that gets you into very difficult regime, so now that...

Nathaniel Frank: But we will be doing that in this case?

Admiral Roughead: Yes. Now that the President has signaled his intent and that the Secretary of Defense has said that we'll go through an assessment process and my point is that we have to assess this force.

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