In Senate hearings Thursday, Pentagon officials made clear that they now fear a sudden repeal, forced upon them by a court decision, that would be far more chaotic for the armed forces than a carefully planned and phased-in repeal. Delay, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, will lead to lawsuits and the possibility that a court decision will force a repeal. "Those that choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts," Gates said.
And on the question of whether the men and women in uniform are queried on policy matters, Gates — who earlier this week said repeal was the will of the American people — had this to say: "I can't think of a single precedent in American history of doing a referendum of the American armed forces on a policy issue. … Are you going to ask them if they want 15-month tours? Are you going to ask them if they want to be part of the surge in Iraq? That's not the way our civilian-led military has ever worked in our entire history. The 'should' question is to be decided by the Congress or the courts, as far as I'm concerned."
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