WASHINGTON — A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.
More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report's authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.
One source, who has read the report in full, summarized its findings in a series of conversations this week. The source declined to state his position on whether or not to lift the ban, insisting it did not matter. He said he felt compelled to share the information out of concern that groups opposed to ending the ban would mischaracterize the findings. The long, detailed and nuanced report will almost certainly be used by opponents and supporters of repeal legislation to bolster their positions in what is likely to be a heated and partisan congressional debate.
Obama has vowed to end the ban. Senior Pentagon officials requested the survey to address areas in which the repeal might cause conflicts that could hinder the military's ability to fight.
The document totals about 370 pages and is divided into two sections. The first section explores whether repealing "don't ask, don't tell" would harm unit readiness or morale. It cites the findings of a survey sent over the summer to 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops, a separate questionnaire sent to about 150,000 military spouses, the responses submitted to an anonymous online dropbox seeking comments, and responses from focus-group participants.
The second part of the report presents a plan for ending enforcement of the ban. It is not meant to serve as the military's official instruction manual on the issue but could be used if military leaders agreed, one of the sources said.