Presence of Openly Gay Soldiers in IDF Does Not Undermine Unit Social Cohesion

June 6, 2010
Danny Kaplan, Amir Rosenmann
Research Report Submitted to the Michael D. Palm Center


The study can be found in .pdf form here.

Highlights: This study examines the correlation between the presence of gay and lesbian soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and measures of unit social cohesion, following a survey of 417 combat and non-combat male soldiers conducted in 2000, seven years after IDF restrictions on gay personnel were terminated.  The argument that openly gay soldiers could undermine unit cohesion rests on a particular understanding of cohesion as a social factor based on interpersonal emotions between unit members.  It argues that once unit members acknowledge the presence of a homosexual soldier among them their sense of closeness and affection for each other would drop.  Under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) such lowered social cohesion is considered an "unacceptable risk," irrespective of its possible impact on combat effectiveness.  The study tests this social dimension of the cohesion rationale by applying a measure of social cohesion based on interpersonal emotions toward unit members.  As an army constantly in the thick of combat, the IDF provides an operative test case for the effect of openly gay service on social cohesion.  We examined whether knowledge of gay and lesbian soldiers in combat and non-combat positions correlates with reduced measure of social cohesion.