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Friday
Jan282011

Pentagon to Begin Phase Out of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon announced Friday that it soon will begin training its forces on the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bans gay members of the military from serving openly.

Senior Pentagon officials said Friday they are confident the process could be finished sometime this year.

Each of the military services will create its own training schedules based on guidelines issued by the Defense Department under a plan announced Friday by Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Cliff Stanley, undersecretary of personnel and readiness.

The Pentagon is moving "expeditiously" in laying out the plan for changing existing policies so they conform with the law that repeals "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Stanley said.

The next step will be a three-tiered training plan to inform all military members about the changes.

The training plan will begin by training "our experts, that's the first tier," Stanley said. "The second tier deals with our commanders or our leaders. And the third tier is, of course, the force."

Both officials said it remains unclear how long it will take to train the entire military, though Cartwright said the training of the three tiers doesn't have to be sequential -- "they can go on together."

The main uncertainty remains is how long it will take to train the 2.2 million service members who make up the armed forces -- 1.4 million active duty members and 800,000 national guardsmen and reservists.

However, both officials are confident that it could be done sometime this year.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy remains in effect until President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen certify that the military's implementation of the repeal has been completed and has not affected readiness. The law itself would not be repealed until 60 days after the certification.

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