SANTA BARBARA, CA – Palm Center scholars today expressed concern today about comments made November 6 by General James Amos, the newly appointed commandant of the Marine Corps, opposing repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Amos said that he opposes allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly on the basis of their ostensible threat to unit cohesion, claiming that “there’s risk involved.” Amos continued: “There is nothing more intimate than young men… laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers… I don’t know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that’s what we’re looking at. It’s unit cohesion, it’s combat effectiveness.”
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, subsequently stated that he was “surprised by what [General Amos] said and surprised that he said it publicly,” noting that the heads of the military services had committed to make recommendations in private upon viewing data from the Pentagon Working Group’s report on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, due December 1.
Palm Center scholars said that General Amos’s remarks do not merely violate the Pentagon’s internal procedure; they defy the research that has been done on the impact of openly gay service. A March 2010 research memo from Palm identified twenty-two empirical research studies that have shown that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly has no negative impact on military readiness.
Said Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center: “General Amos’s comments reflect a lack of familiarity with the facts. He could have read any of the research that has been done on the impact of openly gay service, or merely waited until the completion of the Pentagon Working Group study on December 1. Instead, he rushed to judgment and repeated the long-discredited mantra about ‘unit cohesion,’ making comments that he knew full well would become political ammunition.”