Will the Pentagon Study Help or Hurt DADT?

The official Pentagon study, which surveyed 115,000 troops and 44,200 spouses, was released yesterday, but not publicly, so all we have to go on are the anonymous claims made by people who’ve worked on it or been privy to its findings. Apparently, getting permission to read the results of a nationally pertinent study is harder than getting in to see the Wizard these days.

Let’s review the facts as they stand now:

-70% of troops polled predicted the outcome of repealing DADT would be positive, mixed or have no effect. Where I’m from, that’s called a super-majority, but moving on:

-30% of troops predicted a negative outcome if the policy dies, with that number spiking to 40% amongst combat troops and 58% amongst combat Marines. You’d think people who toss the word “pride” around so much would be a little more accommodating.

-Interestingly enough, only 28% of folks surveyed even bothered to respond to the Pentagon. This is the type of juicy morsel that’s likely to get bandied about by both sides, with Republicans arguing that the study’s compromised and Democrats countering that if 72% of people don’t even bother to fill out a short survey, they clearly don’t care what happens to DADT.

-Even more interesting is the fact that 92% of troops surveyed who believed they had served with someone who was gay thought their unit’s cohesion was very good, good, or neither good nor poor. Democrats will likely argue that this implies GLBT servicemembers are not disruptive, while Republicans will counter that closeted GLBT troops don’t negatively affect morale and cohesion, but openly gay troops will.

If the Republicans weren’t so doggone stubborn, the study’s revelation that most troops don’t mind serving alongside GLBT people would actually mean something. Stalwarts John McCain and Lindsey Graham have stated that they want another study done and they will oppose repeal no matter what.

But, hold the phone! Some of the moderate Republican Senators (namely Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, and Nevada Sen. John Ensign) might swing in favor of the DADT repeal. Snowe and Collins have the best opportunities to break party rank without incurring the wrath of their liberal-East-Coast-not-real-Americans constituencies.

Lugar is one to watch since he’s already being raked across the coals for supporting the START treaty Obama signed with the Russians. Will he take this opportunity to scream “You can’t sit with us!” at John McCain? Will McCain respond by shrieking back, “Fine, you can walk home! And get yourself re-elected without any GOP money while you’re at it!” We’ll be waiting with baited breath.

In the meantime, the New York Times reports that study overseers General Carter F. Ham and Pentagon counsel Jeh C. Johnson concluded,

“We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war. We do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.”

Anne Flaherty, Pentagon study dismisses risk of openly gay troops, AP via Yahoo News

Pentagon study backs end to “˜Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ AP via USA Today

Sam Stein, Lindsey Graham: “˜Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Is Not Going Anywhere,’ Huffington Post

Abby Phillips and Carol E. Lee, START puts Richard Lugar on the spot, Politico

Elisabeth Bumiller, Pentagon Sees Little Impact if Ban on Gays is Repealed, The New York Times

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