Okay, kiddies, I am going to get on my soapbox again. And this time it's a topic that makes no sense to me at all. It concerns the military policy of "Don't, Ask, Don't Tell" with regard to homosexuals serving in the military. Now, I'll admit, given my background and culture, I'm not as tolerant as I'd like to be when it comes to the subject of homosexuality; but that shouldn't come into play when it concerns our national well-being. Right now, our military is understaffed and overstretched. We have serious problems in recruiting and retaining troops, especially when they have to serve multiple tours of duty in a combat zone. To deny someone the right to serve the country is just plain crazy.
According to Change. Org, it is estimated that at least 65,000 homosexuals and lesbians are currently serving in the U.S. military. More than 30,000 have been discharged under the current policy; and according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this has cost as much as $1 billion. It takes a lot of moolah to train a pilot, or a specialist, or even an infantryman. And to have all that money and effort go to waste simply because the person admits to being homosexual is not too cost effective in my book.
The common argument given for this policy is that to have openly homosexual or lesbian troops would undermine morale and "unit-cohesiveness." Well, let me ya, as a Vietnam combat veteran, I'm sure there were homosexuals in my platoon and, naturally, they kept it to themselves. When we were in a firefight, nobody asked who was screwing whom back stateside. Our mission was to survive (and kill the bad guys), plain and simple. The British Army doesn't have this idiotic Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Neither does the Israeli Defence Force, one of the best fighting forces in the world. The Israelis know that they need every able-bodied person they can get, regardless of sexual preference.
The novelist, Colleen McCullough, in one of her novels about ancient Rome has a scene where a Roman general, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, when faced with the same problem, gives a succinct answer: "I don't care who you sleep with as long as you serve Rome." Well, as long as one serves the nation, ethnicity, race, religion, gender and, yes, sexual preference should not be factor. The only factor should be if the person can do the job required.
The fact is, from purely a nationalistic level, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" weakens our national security. Again, according to the GAO, nearly 800 specialists with critical skills have been fired---including more than 300 interpreters, most of whom 60 specialized in Arabic! An estimated 4,000 service members annually choose not to re-enlist because of this cockamamie policy. The gay-bashers talk about "unit cohesiveness." Yeah, think about that when a good sniper or bomb-disposal specialist is ripped away from his or her unit and see how that affects morale and combat readiness.
My friends, it is time for a change. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," as a policy, has to go. Someday our politicians well have the courage of their convictions.
Labels: Colleen McCullough, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Gay Lesbian and Bisexual, Government Accountability Office, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, National security, Oswald Rivera, United States armed forces