I hope you'll indulge me for a moment. The following comes from my final Officer Effectiveness Report just prior to my leaving the Air Force, written by the Squadron Operations Officer and Endorsed by the Wing Commander, a Lt. Col. and Bird Col. respectively. (The OER drives officer promotions, among other things, and is the most formal report of officer performance in the file.)
Lt. Douglas is unquestionably the finest squadron intelligence officer I've known in 17 years of service. Seemingly inexhaustible, he is wholly committed to the combat readiness of the 18th Fighter Squadron. This dedication is clearly reflected in the superior intelligence training programs he developed and was pivotal to the resounding success of our aircraft conversion and first UEI. Lt. Douglas is at the very top of his peer group. I'd fight to have this outstanding officer in my next squadron.
The commendation accompanying my medal is a bit too detailed for my purposes here. Suffice it to say, it is affirming. By the way, I'm gay.
General Pace seems to have a problem with gays in the military. In an earlier era, no doubt, he would have had a problem with the intermixing of races in his force, and in era before that, no doubt, a problem with blacks serving in any capacity at all. That's the way bigotry works. The target evolves; the temperament is timeless.
For those (rapidly diminishing) who feel that the service of gays negatively impacts combat readiness, this bigotry is a luxury. It is sign of advanced thinking that the new Defense Secretary Gates is aligning himself with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and distancing himself from Pace. It is telling that Israel, perhaps the most besieged military in the world, does not have the luxury of indulging bigotry by driving gays from the service; gays serve openly there. Pace, on the other hand, would have driven the expert Lawrence of Arabia out of Arabia. Perhaps he already has. A great many Arabic speakers have been lost to an outrageous policy.
We don't have that luxury. Like preventing African Americans and women from serving, Pace's sentiment is driven neither by practicality nor any noble principle. Gay men and women have almost certainly died proportionately in Iraq in defense of our country, and deserve better in a commander. In one fell swoop, Pace has betrayed his own forces who are even now in harm's way, insulted the dedicated men and women risking their lives, and rendered himself unfit for leadership.