Chris Douglas

In Answer to Peter Pace

Filed By Chris Douglas | March 13, 2007 9:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell

I hope you'll indulge me for a moment. The following comes from my final Officer Effectiveness Report just prior to my leaving the Air Force, written by the Squadron Operations Officer and Endorsed by the Wing Commander, a Lt. Col. and Bird Col. respectively. (The OER drives officer promotions, among other things, and is the most formal report of officer performance in the file.)

Lt. Douglas is unquestionably the finest squadron intelligence officer I've known in 17 years of service. Seemingly inexhaustible, he is wholly committed to the combat readiness of the 18th Fighter Squadron. This dedication is clearly reflected in the superior intelligence training programs he developed and was pivotal to the resounding success of our aircraft conversion and first UEI. Lt. Douglas is at the very top of his peer group. I'd fight to have this outstanding officer in my next squadron.

The commendation accompanying my medal is a bit too detailed for my purposes here. Suffice it to say, it is affirming. By the way, I'm gay.

General Pace seems to have a problem with gays in the military. In an earlier era, no doubt, he would have had a problem with the intermixing of races in his force, and in era before that, no doubt, a problem with blacks serving in any capacity at all. That's the way bigotry works. The target evolves; the temperament is timeless.

For those (rapidly diminishing) who feel that the service of gays negatively impacts combat readiness, this bigotry is a luxury. It is sign of advanced thinking that the new Defense Secretary Gates is aligning himself with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and distancing himself from Pace. It is telling that Israel, perhaps the most besieged military in the world, does not have the luxury of indulging bigotry by driving gays from the service; gays serve openly there. Pace, on the other hand, would have driven the expert Lawrence of Arabia out of Arabia. Perhaps he already has. A great many Arabic speakers have been lost to an outrageous policy.

We don't have that luxury. Like preventing African Americans and women from serving, Pace's sentiment is driven neither by practicality nor any noble principle. Gay men and women have almost certainly died proportionately in Iraq in defense of our country, and deserve better in a commander. In one fell swoop, Pace has betrayed his own forces who are even now in harm's way, insulted the dedicated men and women risking their lives, and rendered himself unfit for leadership.

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I hear ya! Pace would have never gotten away with making similar comments about African Americans or women in the military, but homophobic comments are acceptable because it's his personal beliefs? But, unfortunately those beliefs set the tone for the military...

Excellent post, Chris, and congratulations on your stellar service (and thank you).

One question:

Did you "out" yourself while in the military?

Not judging here...just wondering.

Of course there are tens of thousands (or more?) like Chris, and one hopes that their service is judged solely on their performance. This president's Army cannot afford to throw away willing soldiers. Their numbers are dwindling enough as it is, via the Iraqi meat grinder.

I hear you Chris. I'd like General Pace to come count my ribbons and commedations.

I hate to think of the armed forces lowering the standards for individuals with criminal backgrounds when then have gays willing to serve.

Mary, U.S.Army (SSG,Ret)

Thank you, Speak Up (and all). I left the service (on honorable terms) in 1992. It was before Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In leaving, I was motivated more by my (mis!)perception that with the end of the cold war, and the decline of American business relative to Japan (in those days) there was not as much need for my foreign language skills in the service as in business. It was a modest consideration that once I came to understand that I was gay, I at that time could not have contemplated continued service in the Intelligence arena. I had the highest levels of security clearance, and an attempt at a double life would not have been advisable. (I wouldn't have known how to defeat a lie detector test, for instance!)

Thank you for posting, Mary A, and also for YOUR service.

Marla R. Stevens | March 15, 2007 8:52 PM

Bravo! Proud to have had you (and Mary) in the service of our country. Pace has no business injecting his personal bigotry into his workplace in a manner that reflects badly on our troops or that undermines their confidence in their leadership or their morale. Unfit is precisely the right term.