GAO Report Shows High Cost, Security Risks Of Don't Ask Don't Tell

The Human Rights Campaign renewed its call for the
repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in light of a new report
obtained by several news papers showing that the policy has cost nearly
$200 million for the replacement and training of personnel who had to be
recruited when gay and lesbian soldiers were ousted from the military.
The study also showed that nearly 800 specialists with critical skills
have been fired, including 322 linguists, 54 of whom specialized in
Arabic.

"Anything that compromises our national security costs this country too
much," said HRC Vice President of Policy David M. Smith. "Discharging
highly trained, patriotic service members solely for their sexual
orientation is bad for security, and bad for the country. Just this
week, Great Britain announced it would begin actively recruiting gay and
lesbian citizens for their military. Our strongest international allies
are putting the security of their nation first. We should too."

The report, conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO),
does not include costs associated with discharging officers or trained,
skilled specialists – meaning that the actual cost is likely much
higher.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), more than
10,000 gay and lesbian Americans have been discharged from service under
the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

"The choice we now face is clear: Spend $191 million on firing patriotic
Americans or spend the same amount on a dozen Blackhawk helicopters or
800 sidewinder missiles," said C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of
SLDN. "Our priority should always be defense and security. The Military
Readiness Enhancement Act is the best proposal to do just that."

Rep. Marty Meehan, (D- Mass), ranking Democrat on the House Armed
Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Conventional Threats and
Capabilities, has drafted the Military Readiness Enahnacement Act, and
is expected to introduce the measure next week. The proposal would end
the ban on military service based on sexual orientation.

"Given the incredible demand on our nation's armed forces right now, it
is simply a matter of common sense that we would encourage every single
American to serve if that is their wish," said Smith. "There are
continuing stories that the armed forces need more trained soldiers to
help maintain security at home and in Iraq. We should let every
American serve."

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