Admiral Mike Mullen traveled to Chicago on March 31, 2015 for an evening of discussion focused on the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT). Adm. Mullen, who served from 2007-2011 as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military officer in the U.S., played an historic role in the repeal of DADT after launching the process with an unprecedented public statement to the Senate Armed Service Committee on February 2, 2010.
“I cannot escape being troubled,” he said, “by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” adding, “For me, personally, it comes down to integrity–theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”
Adm. Mullen came to endorse repeal after he thoroughly investigated the implications of inclusive policy for readiness and cohesion. Without his full support, scholars and advocates believe that it would have been virtually impossible for Congress to repeal DADT. In making his February 2010 statement, Adm. Mullen became the highest-ranking military officer to support inclusion while still in active service.
Prior to the March 2015 event, he had never publicly shared details about the evolution of his thinking or the behind-the-scenes role he played in the process.