In a post on Red State today, CNN contributor Erick Erickson baselessly speculated that Defense Department budget cuts were related to the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and that those cuts would be "detrimental to our national security":
I am not one of those who thinks the Defense budget is sacrosanct and cannot be cut. Even Governor Palin is on record saying we cannot spare the Defense budget from cuts in these times and she, unlike me, has a child in harm's way.
In any event, the Defense Department is out saying it will make cuts to the various branches of the military. Am I the only one who thinks it rather ironic that the two branches in for the biggest cuts are the Army and Marines. They also -- I'm sure it is totally unrelated. totally -- are the two branches of the service that were most vocally opposed to repeal of Don't Ask - Don't Tell.
I guess cutting the Army and Marines will boost diversity. Or something. Good grief.
In fact, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen have publicly supported the budget cuts as necessary, and both men, along with numerous other military officials, have advocated for repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.
During a January 6 news conference, Gates called for cuts to the size of the Army and Marine Corps and other cuts to defense spending, including consolidating IT, reducing contractor staff support, and downsizing intelligence organizations unrelated to post-9/11 conflicts. Gates concluded his remarks by saying:
This department simply cannot risk continuing down the same path where our investment priorities, bureaucratic habits and lax attitudes toward costs are increasingly divorced from the real threats of today, the growing perils of tomorrow and the nation's grim financial outlook. These times demand that all of our nation's leaders rise above the politics and parochialism that have too often plagued considerations of our nation's defense, whether from inside the Pentagon, from industry and interest groups, and from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.
During the same news conference, Admiral Mullen stated that, "the chiefs and I are in complete support of these decisions. These were decisions that we helped the secretary make, and I applaud the process that he led." As the New York Times reports, even with the proposed cuts in place, the Army and Marine Corps would still be larger than when Gates became Secretary.
Both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have called for an end to the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2010, Mullen stated, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," adding that "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do."
At the same hearing, Secretary Gates stated that President Obama had announced that he would work with Congress to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and added, "I fully support the President's decision. The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it."
Numerous other military officials have supported DADT repeal, including former Defense Secretary and former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State and retired Army General Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili, and National Security Advisor James Jones. University of California's Palm Center released a list of more than 100 retired generals and admirals who supported repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.