By Sam Fellman -
All-hands training on the new rules on gays serving openly is expected to hit the fleet within two weeks as the Navy prepares to put “don’t ask, don’t tell” in its wake, a sea change that the Navy’s top officer called “easy” in an interview Thursday with Navy Times.
“I think the change is going to be easy,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead told a dozen reporters and editors.
Leading the Navy’s charge is Adm. John Harvey, head of Fleet Forces Command, who is responsible for developing the training and tracking its completion for implementing the new policy. In a Feb. 7 message, Harvey said training for senior leaders and commanding officers must be completed by April 30. They, in turn, will train their commands, which must be done by June 30. Afterward, Roughead will make his recommendation to the defense secretary, who along with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the president, will certify the armed services are ready to the lift the gay ban. Sixty days later, the new law will take effect.
Roughead declined to go into specifics about the forthcoming training, but said, “The training is not going to be extraordinarily lengthy.” He continued, “It’s there to say, this is what has changed, this is what has not changed. And I think you’re gong to find that the standards of the Navy have not changed. And so sailors are going to be very much aware of what the rules are.”
Despite ample coverage in the media, Roughead said that the lifting of “don’t ask, don’t” tell didn’t seem of pressing concern to the fleet. He pointed to the Defense Department survey, released in November, that found nearly eight of out 10 sailors had no issues with serving alongside openly gay shipmates.
Since the survey’s release, Roughead said, “I have since been out on in the Pacific and I have been out in the Middle East, literally talking to thousands of sailors. And what struck me in those discussions was how little of a topic ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was. Most of the time, I had to bring it up.”
He continued, “With the numbers of sailors that I talked to, if I said, ‘Do you want to talk about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” or do you want to talk about [the re-enlistment approval program] Perform to Serve?’ They’d pretty much tell you that they’d want to talk about Perform to Serve.”