Air Force official: Pentagon's 'Don't ask' study 'healthy' and 'informative'

The Air Force’s top uniformed officer is calling the Pentagon’s yearlong study into the implications of repealing the ban on gays in the military “healthy” and “informative.”

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, said Tuesday he already has offered suggestions “for edits both on substance and tone” after reviewing the draft report on the impact of scrapping the Clinton-era “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

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“The study was a good process; it was healthy; it is informative,” Schwartz told reporters at a breakfast meeting. The Air Force chief declined to offer any specifics, stressing his commitment to keep his recommendations to the Pentagon leadership confidential for now.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates requested the Pentagon study be publicly released on Nov. 30 — a day early — to allow congressional defense committees to hold hearings on the findings.

The 2011 defense authorization bill has been caught up in a tug-of-war between supporters and opponents of repealing the ban. Supporters of repeal now hope the Pentagon's study will be the catalyst for achieving the 60 votes necessary to move to debate on the defense bill in the Senate.

The House already passed its version of the bill that contains the repeal provision.

Schwartz said that if Congress changes the law by repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Air Force would pursue implementation “professionally” and “with conviction.”