Study Concludes Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Had No Impact On Military Readiness

ROTC DADT - photo by Matt RadickNearing the one-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), a new study titled (“One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact on Military Readiness” – PDF) by Palm Center shows that the repeal has had “no overall negative impact on military readiness.” DADT banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The congressional bill to repeal DADT passed in December 2010 and went into full effect on September 20, 2011. Here are some of the findings from the study:

  • The repeal of DADT has had no overall negative impact on military readiness or its
    component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment
    or morale.
  • A comparison of 2011 pre-repeal and 2012 post-repeal survey data shows that service members reported the same level of military readiness after DADT repeal as before it.
  • Even in those units that included openly LGB service members, and that consequently should have been the most likely to experience a drop in cohesion as a result of repeal, cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place.
  • Recruitment was unaffected by the repeal.
  • Retention was unaffected by the repeal.
  • The policy change appears to have enabled some LGB service members to resolve disputes around harassment and bias in ways that were not possible prior to repeal.
  • While repeal produced a few downsides for some military members—mostly those who personally opposed the policy change—we identified important upsides as well, and in no case did negative consequences outweigh advantages.
  • There was no wave of mass disclosures of sexual orientation after repeal.
  • The findings of this study are consistent with the reported assessments of repeal by military leadership including President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Marine Corps Commandant James Amos.

photo by Matt Radick

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