Saturday, December 18, 2004

Don't ask, don't extend my tour of duty

Two lawsuits were filed last week against the United States military. In one, eight soldiers are challenging an Army policy that extended their tours of duty in the Middle East. They are suing to get out of military service. In the other suit, 12 gay and lesbian veterans are challenging the decade-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars known gays from serving in the armed forces. They are suing to get back into the military.

The connection between the two suits may be more than coincidental. An analysis of Pentagon data reveals that the military is losing gay troops in the occupational areas where shortfalls are most dire. In addition to the "stop loss" orders that prompted last week's lawsuit, the Pentagon has recalled thousands of former troops from civilian life to fill these gaps.

Many of these recalls would have been unnecessary if the military had not fired so many gay service members. This year the Pentagon approved the recall of 72 veterans in communication and navigation, but it has expelled 115 gay troops in that category since 1998; it recalled 33 in operational intelligence but has expelled 50 gays; in combat operations control, it recalled 33 but expelled 106.

Overall, the military has announced the recall of 5,674 veterans since June, but has discharged 6,416 soldiers under its "don't ask, don't tell" policy since 1998, including 1,655 since the wars in the Middle East began. The discharges covered people in 161 occupational specialties, including linguists; intelligence personnel; nuclear, biological and chemical warfare experts; artillery specialists; and missile guidance and control operators.

Nothing new here. The Germans might have fared far better in WWII if they had not insisted on gassing large segments of the labor pool.

Makes you wonder about the guys like him who had themselves shot rather than go back to Iraq. Dude, your ticket home was a switch-hit away -- and you could even lie about it. And it ain't like being gay is a problem in the Republican Party -- right Ken?


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