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Pentagon planning for life after 'don't ask'
Service members discharged for violating "don't ask, don't tell" will be eligible to reenlist, but "there will be no preferential treatment" for them. Troops dismissed for violating the ban will not be eligible for retroactive pay, Stanley said.
There will be no new policy for releasing service members opposed to repealing the gay ban, but those in opposition may request voluntary discharges. Service members may already seek voluntary discharges if they wish to go to school or object to transfer to a different location. Service secretaries could grant a discharge based on opposition to ending the ban if it's in the best interest of the service, Stanley said.
Officials did not know the expected costs of the training programs, but Gates promised to provide "adequate funding."
Gay rights groups hailed the Pentagon's plans.
"There is more work to be done regarding some important details and clarification of the timeline, but this is certainly a moment to step back, take a pause, and salute the armed forces for a job well done," said Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, a California think tank that endorses the new policy.
But Elaine Donnelly, founder of the Center for Military Readiness and a vocal opponent of changing the policy, said "scores of complicated issues and problems involving human sexuality" remain unresolved. "All of these problems will be loaded on the backs of trainers and field commanders, who will be expected to divert valuable time to deal with all of the negative consequences in the midst of ongoing wars," she said.
Regardless, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama said he expects to end the policy sooner rather than later. "Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love," he said.
The next day, Gates said in an interview: "We will move as fast as we responsibly can."