Trump praised for trans­gen­der troop de­ci­sion

Re­tired gen­er­als note readi­ness con­cerns

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

More than a dozen re­tired gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals have signed a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Trump thank­ing him for his an­nounced pol­icy to ban trans­gen­der peo­ple from the armed forces.

“We write to­day to ex­press our grat­i­tude to you for mak­ing the ex­tremely coura­geous de­ci­sion to re­verse Pres­i­dent Obama’s trans­gen­der so­cial ex­per­i­ment,” the con­ser­va­tive re­tired flag of­fi­cers wrote. “There may be an enor­mous amount of vit­riol di­rected at you for mak­ing this pol­icy cor­rec­tion, but please know that over­turn­ing this pol­icy may have done more in the long-term to save the cul­ture and war-fight­ing ca­pac­ity of the U.S. mil­i­tary than per­haps any other mil­i­tary pol­icy you will adopt as pres­i­dent.”

The let­ter came as the Palm Cen­ter, a re­search non­profit that pro­motes the LGBT agenda, re­leased a com­pet­ing state­ment from 56 re­tired ad­mi­rals and gen­er­als who say reim­pos­ing the ban will hurt readi­ness, not help it.

“The Com­man­der in Chief has tweeted a to­tal ban of hon­or­ably serv­ing trans­gen­der troops,” the state­ment said. “This pro­posed ban, if im­ple­mented, would cause sig­nif­i­cant dis­rup­tions, de­prive the mil­i­tary of mis­sion-crit­i­cal ta­lent, and com­pro­mise the in­tegrity of trans­gen­der troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-trans­gen­der peers who would be forced to choose between re­port­ing their com­rades or dis­obey­ing pol­icy.”

Among the state­ment’s sig­na­to­ries: re­tired Ma­rine Gen. John Allen, for­mer deputy com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand; re­tired Vice Adm. Don­ald Arthur, for­mer sur­geon gen­eral of the Navy; and re­tired Lt. Gen. Clau­dia Kennedy, the first woman to achieve three-star rank in the Army.

Af­ter be­ing pressed by so­cial con­ser­va­tives, Mr. Trump an­nounced his de­ci­sion on July 26 via his fa­vorite com­mu­ni­ca­tions mech­a­nism — Twit­ter. It caught off guard De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis and the top brass, who is­sued state­ments say­ing noth­ing would change un­til they re­ceived writ­ten White House or­ders.

The gay rights move­ment and lib­eral me­dia erupted in protest, and some ac­tivists are count­ing on Pen­tagon lead­ers to buck their com­man­der in chief and keep the sta­tus quo.

For now, the Obama pol­icy re­mains: Trans­gen­der troops may serve openly and ob­tain med­i­cal ben­e­fits such as gen­der re­as­sign­ment surg­eries and other treat­ments.

A de­ci­sion on whether to al­low trans­gen­der re­cruits is pend­ing af­ter Mr. Mat­tis pushed a July 1 dead­line to the end of the year. He or­dered the ser­vices to study the ef­fects of trans­gen­der troops on readi­ness.

Cit­ing var­i­ous es­ti­mates that trans­gen­der med­i­cal treat­ments would cost $1.3 bil­lion to $3.7 bil­lion over 10 years, the gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals wrote that “al­low­ing trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als to en­list would at­tract those per­sons who hope to have tax­pay­ers pay for their ‘tran­si­tion­ing,’ in­clud­ing hor­mone re­place­ment ther­a­pies and elec­tive surg­eries.”

“DoD guide­lines re­quire that those serv­ing in the mil­i­tary be ‘med­i­cally adapt­able to the mil­i­tary en­vi­ron­ment with­out the ne­ces­sity of geo­graphic area lim­i­ta­tions,’ ” they wrote. “How­ever, both hor­mone ther­apy and gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery re­sult in the need for spe­cial­ized med­i­cal care which will not be avail­able in all geo­graphic lo­ca­tions.”

The trans­gen­der pol­icy adopted by Mr. Obama re­quires com­man­ders to mon­i­tor all gen­der re­as­sign­ment pro­ce­dures as they con­sult with doc­tors and su­per­vi­sors to ap­prove the treat­ment and fig­ure out lost duty time.

“Aside from the time lost due to the non­de­ploy­a­bil­ity of the per­son tran­si­tion­ing, one must also con­sider the time taken away from com­mand­ing of­fi­cers for trans­gen­der case man­age­ment,” the let­ter said.

The let­ter sig­na­to­ries in­clude some ac­tive in the so­cial con­ser­va­tive move­ment such as re­tired Army Lt. Gen. Wil­liam G. Boykin, a sto­ried com­mando who com­manded Delta Force.

Other sign­ers: re­tired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McIn­er­ney, a Fox News an­a­lyst; re­tired Army Maj. Gen. Gary L. Har­rell, a for­mer Delta Force com­man­der; re­tired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Val­lely, a con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist; re­tired Army Lt. Gen. Ben­jamin R. Mixon, who headed Army Pa­cific Com­mand; and re­tired Coast Guard Vice Adm. Dean Lee.

While on ac­tive duty in 2010, Gen. Mixon sent a let­ter to Stars and Stripes news­pa­per op­pos­ing Mr. Obama’s plans to end the mil­i­tary ban on open gays.

“Thank you for your fo­cus on pre­serv­ing the mil­i­tary ef­fec­tive­ness, morale and so­cial co­he­sion of the United States Armed Forces,” the group wrote.

Mil­i­tary lead­ers at the Pen­tagon re­main in a hold­ing pat­tern on how and when to im­ple­ment the pol­icy change.

Pen­tagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told re­porters this week that De­fense Depart­ment of­fi­cials were in close con­tact with the White House on the de­tails of that pend­ing di­rec­tive but de­clined to com­ment whether that guid­ance would come as an ex­ec­u­tive or­der or in some other form.

“We have con­ver­sa­tions back and forth all the time with the White House through a va­ri­ety of chan­nels,” he said, not­ing that Pen­tagon lead­ers fully an­tic­i­pate that the White House will de­liver for­mal guid­ance. “We have no rea­son not to be­lieve that.”

Mr. Mat­tis and Ma­rine Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, Joint Chiefs of Staff chair­man, are seek­ing an of­fi­cial White House state­ment be­fore im­ple­ment­ing a pol­icy shift on trans­gen­der troops, Capt. Davis said.

“Or­ders and an­nounce­ments are dif­fer­ent things,” he said.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders re­it­er­ated that point Tues­day dur­ing a brief­ing with re­porters.

“I know that the goal is to work with all of the rel­e­vant de­part­ments, pri­mar­ily the Depart­ment of De­fense, to law­fully im­ple­ment that new pol­icy,” she said.

But there was a sign of dis­sent Tues­day. Speak­ing at a Wash­ing­ton think tank, Adm. Paul Zukunft, com­man­dant of the Coast Guard, said he backs his ser­vice’s 13 self-iden­ti­fied trans­gen­der mem­bers. He cited the case of Lt. Tay­lor Miller, whose fam­ily dis­owned her when she went pub­lic with her sex­ual iden­tity.

“I told Tay­lor, ‘I will not turn my back,’” Adm. Zukunft said at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies. “’We have made an in­vest­ment in you, and you have made an in­vest­ment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.’ ”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Adm. Paul Zukunft, the U.S. Coast Guard com­man­dant, dis­agrees with the let­ter to Pres­i­dent Trump. He said he backs his ser­vice’s 13 trans­gen­der mem­bers.

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