Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that a Pentagon review of how the ban on openly gay military service could be lifted must involve troops and their families at all levels of the armed forces without ensnaring them in the political debate.
In a memo outlining a sweeping nine-month study, Gates said the assessment should be done by Dec. 1. "It is critical that this effort be carried out in a professional, thorough and dispassionate manner," Gates wrote. "Given the political dimension of this issue, it is equally critical that in carrying out this review, every effort be made to shield our men and women in uniform and their families from those aspects of this debate."
The internal assessment is the first of its kind since 1993, when the Pentagon's adopted its "don't ask, don't tell" policy based on a law banning service members from acknowledging that they are gay.
Other Washington news
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PLANE GROUNDEd: Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the service's plan to use the Pentagon's marquee fighter jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, will probably be delayed two years and cost significantly more than expected.
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