Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a former Marine and one of the more conservative Democrats, said Thursday he supports a potential repeal of the U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Webb said he agreed with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, both of whom testified Tuesday before a Senate panel that a thorough review would be launched this year. President Barack Obama has pledged to end the policy, and Vice President Joe Biden said it should be accomplished by year's end.

Webb, who was a Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, said a careful study is critical.

"I believe that the process that was put in place by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen is the correct way to go - to take some time here, up to a year, do so really responsible studies and polling in terms of attitude to help educate the American people and the American Congress about the uniqueness of the military but also to listen to the rank-and-file of the military and then move forward," Webb said. "What they've put on the table is the correct way to go. And then come to us, and we'll move from there."