The Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group that studied the impact of repealing the “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy received more than 115,000 responses from service members and more than 44,000 responses from military spouses, Army Gen. Carter Ham, working group co-chair, told reporters Tuesday in the Pentagon. Members of the group conducted 95 face-to-face meetings with more than 24,000 service members and hosted 140 demographically selected focus groups, such as those with troops serving in combat arms career fields or special operations, he said. All of the service academies participated in the review in addition to a completely confidential poll of homosexual service members. Of those respondents, more than two-thirds did not object to gays and lesbians serving openly, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a separate Pentagon briefing Tuesday. However, 40 percent to 60 percent of those troops in predominantly male combat specialties predicted negative consequences for unit cohesion, he said. “The concerns of combat troops as expressed in the survey do not present an insurmountable barrier to successful repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'” said Gates. He added, “However, these findings do lead me to conclude that an abundance of care and preparation is required if we are to avoid a disruptive and potentially dangerous impact on the performance of those serving at the tip of the spear in America’s wars.”
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.