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

Training to begin within weeks, could be done this year.

ByABC News
January 28, 2011, 4:50 PM

Jan. 28, 2011 — -- The Pentagon announced today 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 today 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 today 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. Repeal Enactment Likely This Year

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

"I think we leave the year there because it's a good goal," Cartwright said. "There's nothing that tells us that it's not reachable, but we have to allow for the fact that we may discover something between now and then."

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 The law itself would not be repealed until 60 days after the certification.