Army chief learned of Trump transgender ban from news

Army chief learned of Trump transgender ban from news
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Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley said Thursday he learned of President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military from the news, but insisted that was not unusual.

Milley said during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington that he did not have advance knowledge of the president’s move, “nor would I have expected to.”

“I saw it in the news. Some people are trying to make this out as particularly unique. If I had a nickel for every time I read decisions in the news over the last couple of years, I’d be a pretty wealthy guy right now,” he said.

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Trump wrote in a series of tweets Wednesday that "after consultation with my Generals and military experts" the U.S. would "not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

The comments received prompt blowback and set off a series of questions about what would happen to the 250 openly transgender troops and estimated thousands more who remain private and how such a move would be implemented.

The Pentagon nor the White House had answers Wednesday, but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford wrote in a letter Thursday that the Pentagon’s transgender policy won’t actively change until Trump sends specific directions to leaders there.

“To date, I have yet to receive implementation guidance, implementation directives, from [Defense Secretary James] Mattis,” Milley said. 

“We will work through the implementation guidance when we get it and then we will move from there.” 

Milley added that to his knowledge, Mattis also has not yet received any written directives from the White House.

Asked if the Army has faced problems with having transgender people serve in its ranks, Milley said “there’s a variety of issues.”

“This is a complex issue and there’s a variety of challenges out there that we have to deal with. We’ve been working through it but this is not clean cut either way,” he said. “We don’t get it in the media; we’re dealing with it professionally, quietly.”