Army leaders oppose moratorium on DADT ban during Pentagon review

Army leaders told a Senate panel Tuesday that they would oppose a moratorium on a controversial law that bans openly gay people from serving in the military while the Pentagon looks into repealing the law.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both backed President Barack Obama's goal to repeal the law known as "Don't ask, don't tell." But the Pentagon leaders said they would need at least a year to study the implementation of the repeal.

Now the military chiefs and secretaries are making the rounds to testify on the 2011 budget request this week and are all fielding questions on the repeal of the Clinton-era law.

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Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed some concern with the pace of the Pentagon's review and indicated he may try to at least include a moratorium on the law in the 2011 defense authorization bill.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey on Tuesday said before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would recommend “against” a moratorium.

“It would complicate the whole process that Secretary Gates had laid out. We would be put in a position of actually implementing it while we were studying implementation. And I don't think that would be prudent,” Casey told Levin during a hearing Tuesday.

John McHugh, the Army secretary and formerly the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said — when pressed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — that he would prefer not to enact a moratorium.

Meanwhile, Casey also expressed concern about what effect the repeal of the current law would have on soldiers fighting in two wars.

“I do have serious concerns about the impact of the repeal of the law on — on a force that's fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for eight and a half years,” Casey said.

Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the change in law has to be made with “careful deliberation” so that it does not “perturb” the stretched military force.