As reported by The Chicago Tribune, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael G. Mullen said he believed that openly gay and lesbian soldiers should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
The statement came with the announcement from Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates that the Pentagon will prepare a review of the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The review will examine the effects that a policy change might incur.
The L.A. Times reports that a high-level task force led by Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, will spearhead the review process.
The decision to begin repealing the policy was made in response to President Barack Obama's call to lift the ban in Oct. 2009.
Historically, the previous Joint Chiefs of Staff have been against attempts to repeal the policy. Mullen's predecessor, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, was morally opposed to allowing openly gay and lesbian soldiers to serve. In the 1990's, Gen. Colin Powell upheld "don't ask, don't tell" by calling it a "healthy compromise." But as of December 2008, Gen. Powell conceded that the policy needed to undergo review.
The announcement from Sec. Gates was met with mixed views by the Senate panel. Sen. Carl M. Levin supported the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, whereas Sen. John McCain endorsed it, calling the policy "imperfect, but effective."
The Defense Dept. estimates that it will require a 45-day window before making major changes to the policy.