Defense

Panetta on transgender ban: Trump should pay the military a visit

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Leon Panetta, who served as former President Barack Obama’s defense secretary, said on Thursday that President Trump ought to visit with military service members deployed abroad before banning transgender people from serving.

“The president ought to take time to visit the battlefields that are out there — Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East — take a close look at those men and women who are serving our country and are willing to fight and die for America,” Panetta said on CNN.

“He ought to recognize that we have the best fighting force on the face of the Earth and we ought to do nothing to undermine what our men and women in uniform are doing right now for the United States,” he continued.

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Panetta’s comments came a day after Trump’s shocking announcement that he planned to reinstate a ban on transgender service members. 

Allowing transgender people to serve, he wrote on Twitter, imposed a “burden” on the military and distracted service members.

Trump’s surprise policy proclamation reportedly took Pentagon officials off guard and sparked a wave of backlash from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Pentagon leaders said Thursday that transgender people would be allowed to serve in the military until the White House issues new rules on the matter and the defense secretary issues new guidance.

The Obama administration announced last year that it would allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. 

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