|The Pentagon announced that openly gay soldiers|
are on track to begin serving this summer.
A GOP hearing aimed at stalling efforts to let gays serve openly in the military backfired Thursday when Pentagon chiefs testified the troops don't think there's anything wrong with that.
"We've not seen issues," said Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps. "There's not been anxiety over it from the forces in the field."
The Pentagon has said repeal of the 17-year ban on gays in the military could be implemented by midsummer once all soldiers receive training.
Amos had been one of the strongest opponents of repealing the Don't Ask Don't Tell ban. Last year, he said his men would be distracted - possibly fatally - by allowing gays to serve.
But testifying alongside the chiefs of the Navy, Army and Air Forces Thursday, Amos told the House Armed Services Committee that training of the rank and file was going smoothly.
"There hasn't been the recalcitrant pushback," Amos said.
"Young Marines," he said, "quite honestly, they're focused on the enemy."
Army Gen. Norton Schwartz said he was "more comfortable than I was" last year about the new policy.
Navy Admiral Gary Roughead said the change would not be that dramatic.
"Repeal will not change who we are or what we do," he said. "The same regulations and standards of conduct will apply."
President Obama repealed the ban in December's lame-duck congressional session while the newly-elected Republican majority could only watch fuming from the sidelines.
Thursday's hearing was an attempt to revisit the issue and slam on the brakes if possible.
"These are people that had actually been rejected by the voters," Rep Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) said of the Democrats who passed the repeal. "It's amazing that they could have made such a decision."
Freshman Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) said he felt like he was arriving after the massacre at the Alamo and being unable to help the victims.
Palazzo said he worried that people enlisted in what "they thought was a good military, a correct military, and this Congress comes and tinkers with it."
"I just apologize to our veterans," he said. "I have yet to find anybody that is in support of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell."
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) pleaded with the joint chiefs: "You can stop this still."
"In your gut you know this is not the right thing," she said.
Servicemembers United, which pushed for repeal, called the hearing "a blatant waste of resources."
"This issue has been settled," said founder Alex Nicholson, a translator kicked out of the Army in 2002 under Don't Ask Don't Tell.
"Troops are more worried about seeing that a government shutdown does not happen so that they can still get paid next week than they are about the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy coming to an end," he said.