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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011--Continued--

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SPRATT. Madam Chairman, I was a member of Congress and served on the House Armed Services Committee, when the ``Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy was adopted. It was a clever solution, but the policy and its consequences deserve an updated review.

The Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, has proposed such a review. He told the House Armed Services Committee that he had managed several large institutions, like the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, and had found that when imposing major policy changes, it was better not to cram change from the top-down, but to help it percolate from the bottom-up. What Secretary Gates proposed was a year-long review, bringing the troops into the dialog, and weighing issues like fraternization and problems not even apprehended at this point.

In a letter to Chairman Ike Skelton dated April 30, Secretary Gates wrote: ``I believe in the strongest possible terms that the Department must, prior to any legislative action, be allowed the opportunity to conduct a thorough, objective, and systematic assessment of the impact of such a policy change; develop a comprehensive implementation plan, and provide Congress and the President with the results of this effort in order for it to be taken in the most informed and effective manner. A critical element of this effort is the need to systematically engage our forces, their families, and the broader military community throughout this process. Therefore, I strongly oppose any legislation that seeks to change this policy prior to completion of this vital assessment process.''

I basically agree with Secretary Gates and will vote to support the process of review that he and Admiral Mullen have laid out.

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