Jarrod Chlapowski

Pentagon Study Analysis, Part 2: Methodology, Themes, and Angry Items

Filed By Jarrod Chlapowski | December 01, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: DADT survey, Jarrod Chlapowski, Pentagon report, Pentagon Study, Pentagon Working Group, Servicemembers United

A lot to get into, so I'm just going to jump into Part 2 without the intro. You can find Part 1 here.

Key Themes

hamm and johnson2.jpgThe study immediately hones in on some key distinctions: the level of unit success for those who suspect they served with someone gay or lesbian at the time and those who have not (92% reported the unit's ability to work together ranged from neutral to very good for the former), and the idea of the effects of open service versus the reality (statements that indicated a difference in reaction to suspecting versus knowing).

These serve to prove the point that fears of open service are largely rhetorical and based on stereotypical bias. This idea is repeated throughout the study, including a section in the recommendations that dismisses a number of concerns due to the basis in such bias.

One could easily conclude that a number of those fearing open service simply needs to work with a gay and/or lesbian service member to overcome their initial resistance, which compliments past research on the topic very well.

Much more, after the jump.

Throughout the study is the idea that not many changes would be made to the military as the idea is to simply equalize the playing field. Benefits that are not dependent on DOMA or international agreements that relate to orientation could be moved into the category of benefits available to any the service member chooses to designate to receive those benefits, such as free legal counseling. The idea that many service members would choose not to out themselves is repeatedly referenced, as is the notion that removing DADT would pull the "knife" out of a gay and lesbian service member's "back." We're not asking for added benefits, but strict equality similar to the 1993 Rand Report's suggested 'Standard of Professional Conduct'. This theme leads into other ideas that I'll get into later.

The difference in perception between combat arms and non-combat arms - particularly in the Army and Marine Corps - is mentioned throughout, as well as the perceptions of troops in units without cross-gender integration. The caveat here, however, is the fact that, when asked about intense combat situations, the idea that troops could handle themselves when bullets are flying actually went up from garrison (social) cohesion. The study concludes that these numbers are based on stereotypes and specifically references Nathaniel Frank's oft-used talking point that attitudes are not predictive of behavior (which incidentally is a sociological norm).

Methodology Kudos and Flaws

Whew. OK. So the methodology was quite extensive, exhaustive, and did its best to nip any criticism in the bud. Let's shove 15 pages into a paragraph or seven.

The working group conducted what are called Information Exchange Forums (IEF's) at 51 separate garrison military installations, which included between 150 - 300 attendees, to total 24,000 troops. These were led by working group staff (of which there were 65). Following these IEF's, 140 total smaller focus groups of about 9-12 were conducted for more intimate input. These smaller troops were led by Westat, who is also responsible for the survey to the troops. The troops selected for these meetings were either volunteers or selected by their commanders, meaning the sample size did not represent an accurate spread of the force. Compared with the much more friendly survey data - which has a margin of error of ±1% and 95% confidence level - either a larger representation of those opposed to repeal showed up, or those that did come spoke very loud (or both). The study makes an extensive aside to point out that the opinions do not represent a quantitative representation of the force.

The information gathered at these IEF's was utilized to formulate questions for the survey. This is why questions about housing benefits came up: evidently a significant concern of the IEF and focus group sessions warranted enough concern to justify a question on the survey. Elsewhere the study goes into detail into exactly which benefits would be provided and which would not due to DOMA or international restrictions, but there is not much indication that misperceptions were attempted to be corrected at these meetings, and it seems these were mostly observational forums. This can be seen as either overly cautious or catering to the opposition. It's also key to note that these questions made it through several rounds of review in the Pentagon.

Outside of the survey (and an online inbox, and about 2700 confidential dialogues including about 300 gay and lesbian service members, and an updated RAND study) a wide swath of experts were consulted on all aspects of the study. All the service academies, foreign militaries, the Palm Center, Brookings, DOD historians and experts, various interest groups, veterans service organizations (VSO's), gay and lesbian military partners, etc - all were consulted in depth in their area of expertise. Have a complaint the study was biased towards forcing chaplains toward going beyond their duty to serve all? Fine, two chaplains are included in the work study group. Concerned about proliferation of HIV due to open service (yes, this does come up)? Ok, well, here's a statement signed by all the surgeons general of each of the services saying existing medical standards are sufficient.

The working group itself was split into four main task forces: Survey; Legislative, Regulatory, and Legal; Policy; and Education and Training. Of the four, the Policy group was responsible for recommendations in policy changes, and Education and Training covered recommendations for post-repeal implementation...education and training. The recommendations were each looked over by the service academies before being approved for final analysis.

After all this, panels were assembled based around the six terms of reference (TOR)- "military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting, retention, and family readiness" - and each were given data results along with a subject matter expert (SME) for each of the TOR's, and evaluated the potential risk both before and after suggested recommendation implementation.

This portion is arguably the one of the more important portions of the study, as it demonstrates that, even before implementing the recommendations surrounding repeal, that the risk overall is low to moderate. With the recommendations incorporated, the risk chart is a field of green with exception to social cohesion (interaction in non-combat or field environments) which remains a moderate yellow. However, the importance of social cohesion relative to task (combat and field) cohesion is weighted .15 to .85, so this is not seen as significant as it might look. This particular weight is mentioned much earlier in the study however, so the connection might not be easily made.

A few more quick notes about the methodology: while the panels were being conducted, a separate red team of experts used to this sort of thing monitored the group dynamic and level of bias to ensure the panels were not being dominated by one opinion. The red team actually found the recommendations and risk assessments to be more conservative than necessary. Also, the study made an effort to point out that the survey of troops was not a polling on repeal, as polling on policy issues is not the way the military conducts itself. Eat that, McCain.

The Item That Is Likely to Piss You Off

So, high risk aversion produced a conservative risk estimate. Social cohesion remains the highest risk. Ways to mitigate that risk are likely seen as a top priority. Separate barracks and bathroom facilities are seen as unhelpful and harmful to integration, so privacy considerations are out. This leaves smaller accommodations, one of which is not setting aside gays and lesbians as a separate class under Equal Opportunity policy. Which means orientation is not set aside like gender and race as a protected class.

Now, ok. Let's look at the logic and outcome of this. Based on the rest of the study, this makes sense, kind of. Comparisons in the study to racial and gender integration place orientation as not as obvious a characteristic as gender or race, meaning harassment levels shouldn't be as high or targeted (low risk, yay!). Military folks despise separate classes, and the best way to integrate is to not have a characteristic pointed out in policy. Plus this goes along with the idea of a Standard of Professional Conduct. The general idea is that if orientation is not a driving, separating characteristic, there is no need for policies creating that separation, which would ideally help with integration, particularly social.

Yes, this is a risk, and one with which I personally am not sure where I stand. But the review allows for an assessment a year later and adapted policy to accommodate needed changes, so if a separate EO class is necessary for gays and lesbians as per bureaucratic request, it likely would be created.

Regardless, it's just a recommendation and is out of our hands at this point. This will be something to monitor as we get into implementation, but we need to get there first. Focus on repeal, repeal, repeal for the next few weeks, and we can worry about the aftermath later.

Alright, folks. That's it for my analysis for now. There's plenty of points I didn't touch that are worth investigating later should I find the time. If you get a second, read the study yourself - it's well written and pretty fascinating.

After you're done calling your senator (*cough*HarryReid*cough*202-224-3542*cough*), of course. Get to it.

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Should we call the 42 Senators that have already said NO?


Or just focus on the 4-6 Democrats that have said NO?

We don't want to waste any time making useless calls.

They haven't said no absolutely, they've stated they want to deal with tax cuts first. Which can be done before Monday. You can have your party on Tuesday if we haven't gotten to a fair NDAA by then.

I guess you don't recognize this whole thing as a charade orchestrated by Democrats and the LGBT-advocacy industry.

There won't be a "party," Jarrod, but perhaps there will be a sincere effort to find a REAL solution - instead of wasting more time, energy and money.

Yes, [sexual orientation not becoming a protected EO class] is a risk, and one with which I personally am not sure where I stand. But the review allows for an assessment a year later and adapted policy to accommodate needed changes, so if a separate EO class is necessary for gays and lesbians as per bureaucratic request, it likely would be created.

Yeah, right ... the day after Hell freezes over!

Jarrod, what planet did you fly in from?

When the military got serious about blacks being integrated into the military (they fought in separate units literally for a century or more), there was still a period where well-qualified black men were routinely assigned to mess halls and janitor duty. Too often, they were treated like second-class soldiers, and until the civil rights legislation of the 60's came along, they had no recourse regarding less-than-equal assignments.

(Remember Dorie Miller, the black soldier at Pearl Harbor who worked in an Army kitchen, but took over an anti-aircraft gun after the assigned operator was shot, and without any training whatsoever shot down four enemy planes that day?)

By not establishing sexual orientation as a protected EO class, it means that an openly GLBT servicemember has no recourse if their homophobic command passes them over for promotion, or tries to harass them out of the military.

I expect there is a good chance in today's world that most military brass are sophisticated enough not to treat GLBT enlistees like dirt -- but you know the occasional homophobic commander will emerge from time to time, and this recommendation would abandon his victims to just have to "grin and take it."

You are confusing some things here. The Navy was actually at the forefront of racial integration. That's where the whole mess-hall thing comes from. Blacks could serve on ships, but except for two cases (a sub chaser and a destroyer) they did so only as cooks and such.
But that was during WWII and before integration. You make it sound like they were ordered to give them equal jobs and then only assigned them to messes. That's not what happened. The Army actually did a lot of the practical integration during the Korean War. They were forced to so by the heavy losses after the Chinese intervention.

It's also not true that gay service members have no recourse to address problems. They just can't do it through the EO channel, which would be more effective. But there are other ways and they are outlined in the report as well as the implementation supplement (complete with case examples). I'm not saying that it's ideal or that it will always work, but there are ways.

You make it sound like they were ordered to give them equal jobs and then only assigned them to messes. That's not what happened. ...

First, I did not even distinguish one branch from the other -- all such nouns in my comment above refer to the "military" in general -- and it was indeed meant to be a general statement.

However, if you want to cite specifics ... I nevertheless contend that racial discrimination was still rampant even into the early 1970's to the extent that it resulted in mayhem on several bases; the most serious being a race riot on Travis Air Force Base that lasted for three days (May 22 thru 24, 1971), resulted in 1 dead and 30 injured, and effectively shut down base operations. [_link_] Of this riot, Major Alan M. Osur has written:

It is my belief that the race riot at Travis Air Force Base, California, in May 1971 was the final push that once and for all gave DOD the indication that something had to be done. The timing seemed too perfect.

That "something" was finally that the "Defense Race Relations Institute (DRRI) was established at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, in June 1971." (op. cit.)

Finally, Osur writes the military brass had knowledge of racial problems, and that the 1971 Travis AFB riot probably could have been prevented if military leadership had been more responsive:

Letters and memoranda throughout the Air Force warned commanders of a potential for racial difficulties and suggested communication, dialogue, and discussion. At Travis, conditions resembled the ghetto environment described in the Kerner Commission Report, and there had been complaints by blacks of racial problems on and off base. Also apparent was the impersonality, insensitivity, and indifference of commanders at various levels of the chain of command.

I am not saying, Steve, that anything in your comment is factually incorrect -- but I do believe this is a matter of degree, and your spin is misleading. You imply that racial discrimination was not a significant problem, and most certainly it was.

I do not wish to name-drop, but I would like to explain that I was a personal friend of Leonard Matlovich, who challenged the no-gays-in-the-military policy in the mid-1970's, decades before even DADT. What was Leonard's position at the time of his discharge? His rank was T.Sgt. -- but his job was being a Race Relations Instructor under the aforementioned DDRI. I did not take extensive notes on the many evenings that Matt and I and other friends discussed the military situation, but I do remember his attitude that the Air Force in particular and the military in general, even in the mid- to late-70's, had a long way to go in establishing a healthy racial environment for all.

As to your second point, you are technically correct, and I stand corrected, technically. However, my over-arching point is that Jarrod, and many others among us, are being gullible if they believe that the military will "make adjustments" readily. The reality is that they will again drag their feet every way they can, and they will make sexual orientation an EO classification only when they are forced to by Executive Order, the US Supreme Court, or, God forbid, Congress (in the latter case, we currently living will all be pushing up daisies by then).

I am being both cynical and realistic -- and I will be delighted if history proves me wrong.

Excellent analysis, Jarrod. For those who missed it, Part 1 is here.