Mullen On DADT: Show Me The Data

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said today that the Pentagon will continue to enforce the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on non-heterosexuals serving in the military, saying that, while he personally supports the policy’s repeal, he still believes Congress should not pass any repeal legislation before a review is completed.

Mullen said the review must include all the “voices” of people affected by the potential repeal and that, once the review is done, he should be the one to “lead” the charge to implement the repeal. Mullen, who fielded questions from reporters and members of the defense community this morning at a breakfast sponsored by The Hill, said that he and other military brass still prefer “to wait until the review was through” before Congress passes the repeal because it’s hard to know the impact because the “data that just doesn’t exist.”“The most important part is to make sure it won’t impact, in a time of great stress on our military … their ability to execute the mission,” Mullen said at the breakfast in response to a question from TPMDC. “We’re trying to get this right.”

He added that, in the meantime, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “is the law, and we’ll continue to comply with it until that changes.” Mullen referenced the recent announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that any ongoing enforcement of the DADT policy would be limited to service members who actively out themselves in a way that the chain of command cannot ignore.

Mullen quipped that it is difficult to predict Congressional action and asked Rep. Gene Taylor to weigh in from the audience.

Just after the event, TPMDC briefly interviewed Taylor (D-MS), a key member of the Armed Services Committee. He said he was disappointed that Democratic leaders inserted the repeal language into the Defense Authorization legislation, a move which “forced me to vote against the bill.” I asked if he thought the push for action had anything to do with the 2010 midterm elections. His response: “It’s a stupid push.”

“It’s the first time in 20 years I’ve voted against it, I did not want to, because otherwise it was a very good bill,” Taylor said. “If they had the votes to pass it I wish they would have done it as a standalone measure.”

During the event, Mullen declined to discuss the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal yesterday before a planned joint press conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying only that he is “very supportive” of President Obama’s call.