Mattis: Transgender troops can keep serving pending study

 
The announcement comes days after President Trump signed a memo barring transgender people from enlisting in the military while instructing Mattis to explore how to handle those currently serving in the armed forces.
 
"Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction," Mattis said in the statement Tuesday.
 
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"In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."
 
Trump announced in late July his plans to reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender individuals to serve in the military.
 
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted at the time.
 
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
 
Mattis indicated in his statement Tuesday that the Pentagon would move to implement Trump's directive, which sparked backlash among Democrats and some Republicans.
 
The Defense Department "will carry out the president's policy direction, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security. As directed, we will develop a study and implementation plan, which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law," Mattis said.
 
Mattis said he would establish "a panel of experts" from within the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide recommendations for implementing Trump's directive.
 
"Our focus must always be on what is best for the military's combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield," he said.