"We used to conform behavior to the military. Now we're conforming the military to behavior."
Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Republican, belled the cat neatly during a hearing last Friday on the military's breakneck pace in implementing the new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) law.
Mr. West, whose 20-plus years in the U.S. Army included combat commands, noted that he and others at Fort Bragg had to endure "sensitivity training" in the 1990s. It didn't enhance the "warrior ethos," he recalled.
What became clear at the hearing of the House Armed Services Committee's Personnel Subcommittee chaired by Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, is that the Pentagon is forging into unknown territory, driven by political correctness, not military need.
Mr. Wilson, Mr. West and Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, were openly skeptical about how honest the process has been. Mr. West noted that political correctness can prove costly, as when commanders ignored Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's plunge into radical Islam before the Fort Hood shootings. Likewise, people are afraid to share qualms over the LGBT law, Mr. West said.
Let's pause. To come right to the point, I'm going to summarize in a voice adapted from a Tom Clancy novel:
"Here's the skinny. Two Pentagon pukes showed up and dodged every important question about whether it's a good idea to have open homosexuality in the armed forces. Republican reps nailed them several times, but didn't go in for the kill. However, they landed heavy ordnance and got plenty on the record to show how stupid, immoral and (expletive) reckless this is."
The deal was supposed to be that forcing soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen to accept homosexuality would not begin until 60 days after three men - President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen - "certify" that it won't hurt military readiness.
Neither witness - Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Clifford L. Stanley nor Navy Vice Admiral William B. Gortney - would say that implementing the LGBT law that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Barney Frank, both Democrats, rammed through the lame-duck Congress would make the military stronger, just that problems can be, well, "mitigated." Wars? What wars?
What they should have said was: "We're rushing to do what Mr. Obama wants before the country awakens from its fiscal nightmare and realizes we're trashing the moral culture of the only military we've got."