Alex Blaze

Pentagon hires firm to survey 350,000 troops on DADT for $4.4 million

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 21, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: barracks, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, military, pentagon, survey

Maybe I'm just having a sudden memory lapse, but I don't recall anything of this scale going on before the war in Iraq.

In an effort to get around the interview catch-22, the Defense Department authorized the hiring this week of an outside contractor to confidentially gather the views of troops and their families, several Pentagon officials privy to the deliberations said.

The contractor, Westat, a Maryland research firm with experience surveying military communities, will gather information from 350,000 troops and their families, including from homosexual service members. The company will use that data to assess the possible impact of a change in policy on military effectiveness and identify possible changes needed in military recruiting, housing, spousal benefits, and other areas, according to the officials.

Um, do they really need that big of a sample size? Couldn't they have gotten by with surveying 35,000 people, or even 3500? Considering that they brought on Westat this week, they'll have to start preparing now, they'll probably start the survey in a few months, and it'll take months after that to collect data, with more months to analyze all that data. The ridiculous sample size would probably put the results of this study well into 2011.

Of course, that's if the goal was to do the survey as cheaply and quickly as possible while still gathering usable data. But we already know that it's a stall tactic, so the goal isn't "quickly." And since they're going through a military contractor, the goal isn't "cheaply," either:

The company did not return calls for comment. One of the Pentagon officials said that Westat, operating under a $4.4 million contract, will "develop, administer, and analyze'' the survey results and will also help organize additional forums and group discussions, with a premium placed on confidentiality.

Oh the military. They sure do know how to waste money. If only there were some democratically-elected body in the federal government that had power over them....

They hired an outside contractor just now because the military already started group sessions and found out that when gay people can't come out, they can't really give useful information:

When then asked whether they believe having those troops in their unit has harmed its ability to function effectively, far fewer raise their hands, the officials said.

The most common concerns that troops have raised, however, have been about privacy in the barracks and that openly gay service would conflict with their religious views, the officials said.

In these initial sessions, participants have also been informed at the outset that they should not reveal whether they are gay or lesbian, reflecting one of the key challenges the assessment group has encountered.

All I know is that they could have just handed out Scantron forms with sealable envelopes to all these people and told them to have it filled out by Monday. It'd not like the information they're going to get will be worth all the time, money, and people fired in the interim that their methodology entails.

I mean, I could tell them that living spaces and "religious views" would be the main problems that other soldiers would have, and no one's paying me $4.4 million.

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Michael @ | May 21, 2010 2:55 PM

When's the Gay Inc. news conference alerting American taxpayers to how millions more of their money is being wasted while the economy is still like a large, gaping wound?

Holdeth not thy breath.

When's the Gay Inc. news conference alerting Americans that even if the "study" were free it's a two-faced conspiracy between the President and the Pentagon to kill the repeal the majority of them say they support?

Holdeth not thy breath.

When's the Gay Inc. news conference telling "Repeal Over My Dead Body" Gates that the answers to those two most asked questions are:

1. If you want privacy, there's the door.

2. Your religious beliefs are irrelevant to the policies of the United States government. See "door" above.

And that "implementing DADT" is as simple as announcing:

"NOW HEAR THIS: yesterday we banned out gays. Today we don't. Paperwork to follow. Tonight's movie is 'MASH'. Dismissed."

Holdeth not thy breath.

When's the Gay Inc. news conference alerting American taxpayers that that $4.4 million is just a part of the BILLIONs of their dollars that have been spent on DADT over the years?

Holdeth not thy breath.

When's the Gay Inc. news conference alerting Americans that THEIR security and the security of their families is, in the President's own words, weakened by DADT?

Holdeth not thy breath.

When's the Gay Inc. news conference alerting Americans to the fact that cowards and bigots in Congress that are using the "study" as an excuse not to repeal DADT are not just, thus, continuing to waste billions of their taxpayer dollars and weakening national security but are no better than liars when they pretend that there can't be both repeal now AND the "study," however phony?

Holdeth not thy breath.

Thirty-five years after the first gay servicemember outed himself to fight the ban, when's Gay Inc. going to finally fight to defeat it half as hard as others are fighting to defend it?


Well I couldn't resist. I dialed up Patton on the psychic hot-line and asked him about the Pentagon study and the DADT policy. Here is what the General had to say....

"Ma'am, with all due respect don't ask me about those pansies in Washington D.C. That bunch of lily livered cock eyed brandy sniffers couldn't fight their way out of a gay bar on a Wednesday night. Now I want to dispel any rumors about queers and the military. Since before the glorious Roman conquests cock sucking soldiers have been fighting and winning wars. I don't give a damn what turns on a fighting patriot as long as they have the courage and stamina to destroy the enemy and I don't want them to waste any time filling out some stupid survey. Its up to the leaders to do the thinking and planning. The men and women on the front line are there to win the battles.

Now some people probably think I'm against queers. Hell no. I am against chicken shits who don't want to march through the mountains of Afghanistan and the battle zones of Iraq seeking out and destroying the real enemies of freedom. I'll fill out the God Damned survey for all my troops and it'll just take 2 words, Fuck You. Then I'll ask the recruiters back home to send me any red blooded American faggot who will do what any real man does for his country which is kill the queer and straight bastards fighting against me. Wars aren't fought in the bedrooms or tents for Gods sake. They aren't won by mental masturbation worrying about some fucking asshole back in the states who wants to get re-elected. They are won by the front line troops and those who resupply them. Those real soldiers don't have time to worry about whether its a heterosexual dishing out the beans or a Dyke refueling the Bradley.

Now if you'll excuse me Ma'am I've got to review the invasion plans for Iran. Those turban headed dress wearing lying bastards need to be sent off to meet Allah before they have a chance to do something really stupid."

Note... I hope this doesn't violate the site TOS. I really enjoy my interviews with Patton when I can get him to answer the psychic hot-line.

I find it strange that they've gone from "every soilder needs to be heard" to "350,000 is good enough".

Once again, bait and switch and contiue with busissness as usual.

>> "they'll probably start the survey in a few months, and it'll take months after that to collect data, with more months to analyze all that data"

I believe you just answered your own question.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 21, 2010 11:49 PM

As Michael mentions above we waste billions on our military and it's "footprint" around the world. The cost of running a single aircraft carrier is a billion dollars a year. I believe we have eleven of them, thank you.

Now, at the level of the individual soldier they, and their families, are being given the courtesy of being asked their opinion by someone "outside the military chain of command." The article you quote featuring Barney Frank STATING that this survey should have no bearing on whether or not the law should be changed immediately was not mentioned and should have been.

This is a cost per family of about $125.00 and will obviously involve an individual in a comfortable location being asked a series of questions face to face WITHOUT FEAR OF IT COMING BACK ON HIM OR HER. To alter DADT too arbitrarily risks losing the talents trained into these young men and women who may decide not to reenlist. To alter this policy arbitrarily also endangers the "out" soldier if we do not create a climate for openness about the true feelings of those soldiers enlisted. I am talking both sabotage and "friendly fire."

Now, our military does an imperfect job of communicating with it's soldiers AT BEST and loses a lot of talent because of it. My partner (13 year Air force vet and jet interceptor pilot) advised his nephews to enter service if they felt the call to do so. Several did and were glad for the experience of their gay uncle telling them what to expect. One of their sons is in regular communication with us and the great nephew has just done his 18 month tour in Afghanistan. He is depressed by what he saw and does not intend to reenlist. His wife and baby child are not enough to pull him out of the dark place he never knew existed for him.

$125.00 per family is a bargain. It is a safety valve. The information concerned will be compiled much faster and reflect greater accuracy. It tells each active duty soldier and their family that the "military family" must be a diverse and welcoming place. Harry Truman desegregated the military only after federal courts we prepared to force the issue. We are leapfrogging ahead of this process. Recognize that.

Did you slip a decimal? 4.4 million divided by 350,000 comes out to $12.50 on my calculator?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 22, 2010 12:28 AM

Deena, Thank you, I am suffering from morning eyes, while thinking of my partner's great nephew, and need another cup of coffee. (LOL) I do think though that this underscores how important it is to retain talented service members who cost an estimated $150,000 per person on average to train. (Yahoo answers)

This varies upon specialty of course. My partner cost millions in the 1950's as a pilot during the Korean War. He spent millions on others as base safety officer and flight trainer. He just never had to count the money.

John Rutledge | May 22, 2010 9:17 AM

Since when does the military survey the troops to see how they like their orders? So men, how does everyone feel about going to Afghanistan today? Should we ask your families too? Remember, how you feel directs our policy, so answer carefully.
Did they survey the troops before adding African Americans, or women?
Military 'tradition' has always been an order is an order, we don't care if you like it, don't like it or how you 'feel' about it. A good soldier does what he is told, period. Any questions? Tough!
Love the Patton response.

John Rutledge | May 22, 2010 9:18 AM

Since when does the military survey the troops to see how they like their orders? So men, how does everyone feel about going to Afghanistan today? Should we ask your families too? Remember, how you feel directs our policy, so answer carefully.
Did they survey the troops before adding African Americans, or women?
Military 'tradition' has always been an order is an order, we don't care if you like it, don't like it or how you 'feel' about it. A good soldier does what he is told, period. Any questions? Tough!
Love the Patton response.

Wendell Cochran | May 22, 2010 4:40 PM

An independent survey of the troops of this magnitude is just another way for Secretary Gates and the homophobic Generals to skew the data in favor of keeping DADT as a policy. When are Democrates and independent thinking Americans going to wake up to the fact that "Republican Carry Over" Gates is tap dancing to Bush and Chaney's tunes. After all, they be the ones who brought him in to carry out their military agenda. He's got a Republican broomstick up his a** and he's doing some might fancy foot work as he bojangles at the end of it. It ain't coming out till he's kicked out the door. I'm not amused and I have no confindence in the fairness of the report when it comes out regardless of how much money he spends on a survey that's going to say exactly what he wants it to say: Straight G.I.s oppose co-serving with Gay and Lesbian soldiers. Gates needs to be replaced with someone who is more loyal to the current President -- not to the one whose gone.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 22, 2010 9:35 PM

Why don't they ask them if they're comfortable being killed amd maimed to help Obama make the world safe for Haliburton, BP, and Texaco-Chevron.

This is four point four million dollars of complete waste. They do not need surveys about DADT, never did. It is just a smoke screen to be a delaying action. There are enough military's of other countries in Europe and elsewhere which allow Gay and Lesbian people to serve if they wish to which would provide them all the data they need on this subject.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 23, 2010 6:27 AM

I believe I said that the military does an imperfect job at best of communicating with their soldiers. The out Gay soldier has to depend upon their fellow soldiers for their life. This is different, and everyone has already said that there will have to be training of the hetero soldiers to understand that "unit cohesiveness" includes us. I want to save lives of Gay men and women. What is your problem with that?

Now, Bill, Wendell or John, I am not a veteran. Are any of you? I just live with one.

Robert, while I can understand your concern, the commentators here are right: this is a smoke screen and nothing more. It is purposely designed to push any action on this non-issue off as long as possible so it doesnt interfere with a potentially tenuous election campaign... while at the same time giving the appearance of "See? We're working on it!" to keep the voter base happy. It is as transparent as a sheet of glass, and we should all be embarrassed that the government has gone this route to avoid doing something it knows it should have done years ago.

The Pentagon did not poll the rank and file about integration. Truman signed the order forcing it because he knew that if he didnt, the Supreme Court would do it for him. The Court this time around isnt quite as sympathetic to the concept of equality under the law, so Obama doesnt have to do anything. He made a rash promise that sounded real good, and now, with his own poll numbers slipping, he knows he has to do something to make it look like he really, really cares about change. So this neat little tap dance, which flies in the face of all logic, is his, Gates', and the Pentagon's absurdist-theatre solution.

Colour me very, very unimpressed and left wondering just who the hell we elected that November.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 23, 2010 9:45 PM

Sean, yes, in 1948 Truman signed a ruling that everyone loves to quote while they also overlook two important facts:

1. We had the draft at the time so keeping an educated force was no issue.

2. The forced integration, (correct as it was in principle) was followed 13 years later by the **disproportionate deaths** of African American soldiers for the following eleven years.

I would bet those families that lost their sons to Vietnam would have liked to have had a survey.

Also Vets I know both straight and gay have no issues because they are mature. An 18 year old testosterone filled soldier trained to kill without a thought could well sabotage the out gay soldier. Our "all volunteer" force is composed of a lot of people who did not come from the top of their classes.

We are still leapfrogging the legal process which could well take longer by far than a survey. IF the court were to hear it and IF the Supreme Court were favorably disposed to our point of view.

Your post says more about our training methods than anything else. Allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve has not been an issue in Canada or Israel, both of which are not exactly wimps on the battlefield. Are you saying that ours is so out of control that no one can rein these guys in?

Sorry, I dont buy that. If indeed it is the case, then our armed forces have far deeper issues to deal with than just allowing gays and lesbians to serve.

I have one question - the same question I've had since we first started talking about these surveys and interviews:

Why the hell do servicemembers' families have anything to do with this? Anything at all? Can anyone play devil's advocate and explain to me why a servicemember's spouse or kids should care if Mommy's or Daddy's coworkers are gay?

Seems to me like an attempt to artificially pad the number of straights they survey, because gay servicemembers' SOs (if they have them) aren't considered 'family.'

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 24, 2010 10:18 PM

Sean, Israel has a mandatory service draft for every citizen except the ultra Orthodox. Instead, in their wisdom, all Israeli taxpayers are subsidizing them to have large families and study the Torah. The more secular Israeli soldiers of both genders are

America remains the most religious and "church attending" country in the world. Our "all volunteer" army comes disproportionately from the Red states. There have even been recent scandals involving recruits forcing Christianity upon non believers in their midst.



So, I maintain there are these ignorant influences to contend with in the 95% of the world that prefers heterosexuality.

Evan: In anticipation of 90% of the problem being with heterosexual soldiers I think they need the survey the most. More importantly (not the kids) but the spouse of a male or female soldier is integral to their happiness. It is being inclusive and it will assist us in holding on to that $150,000.00 in investment per solder created. Yes, by the way, I want a smaller military. Right now Japan should be paying us to stay in Okinawa and S. Korea should be carrying the cost of defending the 38th parallel itself.

We provide protection to trading partners and then shift our manufacturing base to them!

Germany should have no American solders in it other than Marines at the American embassy. Same with the UK and with the exception of a naval base in Italy perhaps same in the Med. Americans must stop being held hostage to their military. Everything we are presently doing is based upon WWII treaties and the long dormant cold war. I respect the service of every individual soldier or sailor, but the full mission needs to be rethought from the ground up.

>> "America remains the most religious and "church attending" country in the world."

You've obviously never been to Europe, or you wouldnt make such a naive statement. You also almost gracefully slide over the Canadian example, which is also an all-volunteer army and which is also an example of a well-trained force that understands the concept of following orders from the top down instead of, as we are now seeing here, *suggestions* from the top that need to be polled.

While I can understand and appreciate your concerns, if we go down this road, we are simply asking for trouble. We have a commander-in-chief who's supposed to tell thsse guys what to do. We have more than enough Pentagon brass to make sure the orders are executed properly. There is simply no *valid* reason to postpone an inevitability out of concerns over the delicate psyches of our dear little, theoretically (by your logic) immature little troops. We are not dealing with six year olds here. We are dealing with men and women who, if they dont already, should know better. This should be treated as a non-issue across the damn board. Period. End of story.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 26, 2010 1:34 AM


I can take my time because no one else is going to read this anyway. The only two continents I have missed thus far are Australia and South America. I have been to Fatima, seen the "Black Madonna," visited the many empty churches in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Russia, Austria, Hungary, Romania....

And YOU "almost gracefully" neglected to look at the obvious disparity between Caucasian and African American deaths in Vietnam. I do not want to see the same thing happen to LGBT soldiers.

I have even been to Notre Dame cathedral in Montreal, Sean. With all due respect to our Canadian "brothers in arms" we are talking about a very different core group of attitudes.

You "naively must never have traveled" to southern Indiana, rural Michigan, rural Georgia or anywhere else redneck rural in the United States.

Ten years ago Jeff Greenfield wrote a book "Oh Waiter! One Order of Crow!" which had as it's subject the strangest presidential election in American History. That strange method by which George Bush became president.

Page 41 "Even in a tight election like this one, there are plenty of states where a network can make a call the instant toe polls close. In fact, were it not for the fear of an infuriated political community...we could call plenty of states the instant the first exit polls roll in around lunchtime. For that matter, in almost every election we could call roughly half the states by Labor Day, without a hint of fear."

Just like in a presidential race "Gays in the military" poll well nationally, but Al Gore won a lot more votes in the 2000 election than George Bush. I think our spending 12.50 per family and retaining 150,000.00 in training costs on average is a correct goal. It will lead to a safer integration of the LGBT soldiers who presently serve and will serve in future openly. I would hope to see the return of those soldiers unfairly dismissed from serving their country

Uncontrolled LGBT integration into the armed services is as wise as "uncontrolled economic growth."

Christan Church attendance is down in all European countries with the possible exception of Poland. It is not down in the Red States to the same degree as blue states. In fact, the Red States remain the bastion of "Rapture." Don't ask me, ask P.N. Warren.

Our goals are absolutely identical Sean.

Well then, Robert, let's all just go back into the closet, because attitudes in this country certainly arent gonna change -- if anything, with the political climate as poisonous as it is right now, they're just going to get worse. And we are simply too small a percentage of the overall population to effect any real change, at any level.

At least that's what I get from your post.

Yes, I've seen the parts of the country you talk about. I was raised in the Texas panhandle in the 1960s, when "nigger" was thrown around like rice at a Presbyterian wedding and "fag" wasnt used beause no one had a clue what one was. Trust me: Ive been there. And yes, there is a huge difference in attitude between the US and Canada, which is a main reason why I'm headed back in a few months to the Great White North. The US has become a train wreck of interstellar proportions, and it thinks it can bluster its way out of every situation by waving around a few more missles. We have come to believe just a bit too much in our own mythology, and now we're completely rewriting our textbooks to reflect that twisted sense of self. Sorry, I dont want to be a part of such nonsense.

I wrote in here a few weeks ago that I do not believe DADT, ENDA, or DoMA will go down anytime soon. For all the joy rushing about with the supposed demise of DADT, everyone seems to be forgetting that the Pentagon *conveniently* said it wont honour the repeal until it's had time to finish its study on "military readiness and unit cohesion", a study in which they *are* stacking the deck against us so they can say "See? Aint gonna work. Sorry!" One of my Facebook friends thinks the study will be finished in December; I told him he was nuts if he actually believed that: instead, they will draw this out as long as possible, for years even if it so suits them.

And what is our CiC doing? Nothing. There's an election coming up, and he's not about to risk his party's political future by doing something even as simple as a stop-loss order. After november, we'll be in the presidential primaries -- *again* -- and once more we will be thrown under that proverbial bus because no one will want to appear progressive in a time when this country is anything but.

So yes, I agree that attitudes are different. That doesnt alter the fact that Washington is supposed to *lead*, not follow, and that something like this should be a non-issue, period. The longer such a policy remains, the more emboldened our little soldiers will be at fragging gays and lesbians, because they'll simply say "Hey, they're not even supposed to be here!" And the very attitudes you and I both deplore wil simply continue on. Is that what we're supposed to accept?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 26, 2010 9:51 AM

Sean, Thank you. I thought you were angry at me instead of the realities. Yes, America is a train wreck. An extremely privileged train wreck.

Read my bio sometime on the "Alumni list" of Bilerico contributors. I was unafraid to be out of the closet before most knew where to look. I was unafraid to be an out Gay man in a neighborhood outside of the "Gay Ghetto" in Chicago from 1976-2002. I live in Thailand now because here, no government or "blood relative" can have primacy over myself in care decisions for my 81 year old partner, the 13 year air force veteran and my partner of 34 years. And no, I will not live in Canada, but I do not have time for America to catch up.

I understand your frustration. Still, as I have tried to explain, 11% of all Americans were African American in 1965-1975 accounting for 12.6% of our total soldiers, (did college deferment bias have anything to do with that?) but accounting for a staggering 14.9% of all deaths in Vietnam. I do not, on the altar of "political correctness" wish to see GLBT soldiers killed disproportionately as African Americans were in Vietnam or any other stupid war like it.

The United States of America. 95.4% of the world is not the United States of America by population. We consume something like 24-25% of the world's resources and Americans cannot figure out why anyone hates them. We overeat enough food each day to feed 80 million people. One American consumes as much power as 2 Japanese, 6 Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, and 370 Ethiopians. But Americans do not want to give on the Kyoto treaty and the mantra is "drill baby drill."

Some of my military professional friends consider me to be an "isolationist," but I tell them that our power comes from our domestic market and manufacturing ability more than it comes from military might alone. Our future power can only be assured by debt reduction. We need a smaller intelligent military and a release from 65 to 15 year old missions that are obsolete. Twice a year I can see American ships in the Gulf of Thailand on maneuvers with the Thai navy that is still floating boats built in 1948. (Oh, and the prostitutes in port are thrilled to see them.) What in the hell are the US Navy doing in the Gulf of Thailand? Why are we providing the full military cover to Dubai? Germany? Japan? even South Korea for free on the dime of the American taxpayer? Why do none of the American taxpayers complain about that?

Why is Gay military inclusive Israel our greatest recipient of foreign aid and completely homophobic Egypt the second greatest? Draw a cartoon about it sometime because a cartoon makes more sense than reality.

And no I accept nothing about it, but if I dare criticize Israel I am antisemitic. Military footprint, unpatriotic or isolationist. There is a constant ebb and flow to politics and that insures that there are always 40% of the population that is dissatisfied about something at any time. Ours is an extremely unfair form of government. Please suggest another that is better.