The following letter appeared in today’s New York Times:
To the Editor:
Re “General Pace and Gay Soldiers” (editorial, March 15):
Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, owes no one an apology for stating his personal view that homosexuality is an intolerable immoral act. His is a view shared by a large, mostly religious plurality of military personnel and their families.
Lifting the ban on homosexuals to serve openly would alienate that pool of religious conservatives who have demonstrated a proclivity to serve in the volunteer military. There is zero evidence that eliminating the ban would induce avowed homosexuals to flock to the armed forces.
General Pace has good standing to defend the ban from a military effectiveness point of view as well. There is longstanding evidence that soldier performance in combat is based on unit cohesion—trust and confidence—and readiness.
In 1993, the Army’s surgeon general declared homosexual behavior to be a readiness detractor and further concluded that same-sex tensions in forced intimate situations undermine the unit cohesion necessary for a soldier’s success in combat.
Robert L. Maginnis
Woodbridge, Va., March 15, 2007
The writer, a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel, advised the 1993 Pentagon task force that wrote the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Those who would repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” statute seldom (if ever) address Colonel Maginnis’s point about unit cohesion. Maybe cohesion shouldn’t be affected by sexuality, but it is, and given that it is, we must take it into account. The military is not a research laboratory or a clinic. It’s a fighting force. Given the importance of having a maximally effective fighting force, there is a strong presumption against anything that detracts from this mission. I’m not saying that cohesion is everything. I’m saying that it’s not nothing. Ironically, progressives are absolute deontologists on this question. They want the statute repealed, whatever the consequences. Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum (“let right be done, though the heavens should fall”). Most people (rightly) think that the consequences of repealing the statute should be taken into account.
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