The U.S. military's preparations for the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell are proceeding "extremely well" with officials on pace to certify to Congress this summer that the armed services are ready for the change, Pentagon officials told a House subcommittee Friday.
Defense Undersecretary Clifford Stanley said nine percent of military forces have received training and that the troops have offered no resistance to the repeal of the policy that has prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
"It has gone extremely well so far," Stanley told lawmakers.
Stanley said the training of all service members should be completed in the summer, clearing the way for the military to implement the repeal in the fall.
First, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and, finally, President Obama must certify in writing to Congress that lifting the ban won't harm the military's ability to fight.
Gates has said he will issue the certification this summer once training is completed.
Obama signed legislation repealing DADT in December, but the policy remains in effect until Congress receives the certification.
In Friday's hearing before the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, Stanley and U.S. Navy Vice Admiral William Gortney, who is in charge of implementing the repeal across the services, spent the balance of their testimony allaying the concerns of Republican lawmakers who had opposed the repeal.
The hearing came a day after a Navy petty officer, who is gay, said a military review board voted against his discharge. Derek Morado, 26, stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, had been investigated for violating DADT in 2009. He announced Thursday that the board in a closed proceeding voted unanimously to let him to serve the remaining three years of his current enlistment.
At the subcommittee hearing Friday, Republican members rehashed arguments that the repeal would compromise fighting readiness and that troops who object to serving with openly gay comrades would resign in protest.
"I want to make sure we do not go now on a witch hunt because of external social engineering interest groups," said Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a retired lieutenant colonel and Iraq combat veteran, raising the prospect that military personnel might face unfair retribution for resisting the new policy.
West added that any time spent training for the new policy takes away service members' time on "the rifle range."
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) said he personally knows officers who plan to resign once the new policy takes effect.
Both Stanley and Gortney testified that they are receiving no indications of backlash among service members or signs of a mass exodus.
Scott also suggested that repealing DADT may not be necessary because it's likely that gays and lesbians had been discharged for violating other standards of conduct. Scott asked Gortney if "personal conduct" had been a factor in the discharges of gays and lesbians.
Gortney responded: "I would say in very few cases."