Air Force chief not aware of cohesion, morale issues due to transgender troops

Air Force chief not aware of cohesion, morale issues due to transgender troops
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The top general in the Air Force on Tuesday said his service has not seen any issues with unit cohesion, moral or discipline as a result of open service by transgender troops.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein was asked by Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power Senators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance Overnight Defense: Military justice overhaul included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review security of 'nuclear football' | Pentagon carries out first air strike in Somalia under Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) whether he is “aware of any specific issues of unit cohesion, disciplinary problems or issues with morale resulting from open transgender service members in the Air Force.”

Goldfein replied: “Not the way you’ve presented the question, ma’am, I’m not.”

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“I will tell you that I’ve talked to commanders in the field, first sergeants, senior [noncommissioned officers], and I’m committed to ensure that they have the right levels of guidance to understand these personal issues that they’re dealing with,” Goldfein continued. “And so we continue to move forward to ensure that we understand the issues.”

Goldfein joins Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley, Marines Commandant Robert Neller and Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson, who all similarly told Gillibrand at committee hearings in the past two weeks they have seen no evidence of unit cohesion and morale being hurt by transgender troops.

Last month, President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE signed a memo banning most transgender people from serving in the military “except under certain limited circumstances.” The memo gave Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Trump says Gen. Milley 'last person' he'd want to start a coup with Overnight Defense: Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dies at 88 | Trump calls on Milley to resign | House subpanel advances Pentagon spending bill MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenEx-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE, who oversees the Coast Guard, “authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”

The new policy cannot go into effect immediately, as courts have issued preliminary injunctions that require the Pentagon to continue allowing open service while lawsuits work their way through the court system.

Trump’s memo was signed in conjunction with the release of a report Mattis submitted to the president outlining his recommendations on how to handle transgender troops. Among the issues raised in the report was the potential for transgender individuals to disrupt unit morale.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Goldfein said he learned in meetings with transgender troops about their commitment to serve and how individual each case is.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “It’s very personal to each individual, and that’s why I go back to, we have an obligation to ensure that we understand this medically, and then we can provide our commanders and supervisors the guidance they need to be able to deal with this so they don’t have issues."

Gillibrand also asked Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson who from the Air Force served on the panel that advised Mattis’s recommendations. Gillibrand also asked whether there were any health professionals on the panel.

Wilson said the undersecretary of the Air Force represented the service on the panel and that she did not know if there were any health professional on the panel.

Further asked if she ever recommended a change in the military’s transgender policy, Wilson declined to answer, citing the ongoing litigation.