Survey responses will allow leaders
to make informed decisions
|WASHINGTON, D.C. — Survey responses on the possible
repeal of the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the
military will allow leaders to make informed decisions, Pentagon Press
Secretary Geoff Morrell said.
Morrell said many stories that have resulted from advocacy groups
leaking a 103-question survey e-mailed recently to 400,000
servicemembers “have been inflammatory in the worst case, and misleading
in the best case.”
Defense Department officials wanted the survey to remain confidential,
Morrell said, but the distribution of the survey to 200,000 active-duty
servicemembers and 200,000 reserve-component personnel worked against
The survey was designed to be a confidential conversation between the
Defense Department working group studying the matter, in particular, and
a large representative sample of the force, Morrell said.
“We thought it would be breaking faith with them for us to be
proactively sharing the survey,” he said, “because what we are trying to
do is preserve the credibility and integrity of the answers that it
elicits from the force.”
Outside influence is not helpful to the process, Morrell said.
The survey is designed to get the attitudes of the force on how to
proceed if Congress repeals the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law,
and is not a referendum on whether or not the law should be repealed,
Morrell said. The answers, he added, will inform the working group’s
Pentagon officials worked with a professional and reputable polling firm
to produce the survey, Morrell noted. Roughly the first third of the 103
questions seeks demographic information. The second third asks about
professional and military experience. The final third asks how the law’s
repeal might affect the individual being surveyed, he explained.
The working group led by Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army
Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel,
already has spoken with 14,000 servicemembers, Morrell said. Another
33,000 servicemembers have interacted with the department
electronically, he added.
Of the responses to date, Morrell said, many included concerns about
privacy issues. “Clearly,” he said, “a component of this scientific
survey had to deal with privacy questions.” Ten survey questions address
privacy issues surrounding bathing facilities, living facilities and
“We think it would be irresponsible to conduct a survey that didn’t
address these questions,” Morrell said, “because when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell’ is repealed, we will have to determine if there are any challenges
in those particular areas, any adjustments that need to be made in terms
of how we educate the force, or perhaps even facility adjustments that
need to be made to deal with those scenarios.
“But we won’t know any of that until we get a sense from the force of
their attitudes,” he continued. “It could turn out, based on this
survey, that there are far fewer concerns than we are led to believe.
There could be more or different concerns than we had anticipated.”
But Defense Department officials need the information generated from
this survey to make smart decisions, Morrell said.
“We need people to participate in this survey to get a scientific
understanding of the attitudes of the force, or the concerns, or issues
or opportunities that may result from a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell,” he said.