FORT LEE, Va. (July 14, 2011) -- With the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal certification expected any day now, Fort Lee and its tenants are reporting nearly 100 percent completion of personnel training.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps began training all of the nation's 2.2 million military members in February to prepare for repeal of the law that precluded gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Congress voted for repeal in December and President Barack Obama signed it into law. Since then, the services have been conducting training to ensure compliance with the repeal of DADT.
Ninety-nine percent of Tier 3 personnel (regular military) from the Combined Arms Support Command have completed the training as of Tuesday, while the Tier 1 and 2 personnel (commanders, chaplains, judge advocate personnel, etc.) are at 100 percent. Those numbers include the command's subordinate organizations such as the Quartermaster School, Ordnance School and Soldier Support Institute among others.
Sgt. Maj. James Brown, CASCOM G-3 office, said Soldiers have been receptive to the training so far and most of their concerns involve how to handle issues administratively.
"The Soldiers are finding the training informative," said Brown. "We've seen lots of questions about the gay or lesbian partners and how they would be handled administratively."
This week, the commander-driven DADT training was completed for Soldiers in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 49th Quartermaster Group.
Capt. Jimmie Leonard, the company commander, said the top unit leaders were conducting the training themselves
"We want to make sure our Soldiers are completely trained," said Leonard. "The Soldiers are glad to be informed about the repeal act."
In the company, Leonard said most of the Soldiers questions involved their quarters and sharing a room with someone with a different sexual orientation. According to a Department of Defense Fact Sheet, commanders do have the discretion to alter billeting assignments to accommodate privacy concerns of individuals on a case-by-case basis where it is in the interest of maintaining morale, good order and discipline, and is consistent with performance of the mission.
Leonard said any questions posed by the Soldiers that were not immediately answered were put up through the chain of command to ensure the correct information was given.
That sort of effort fits the Army's mandate to conduct effective and informative training in the most efficient timeframe possible.
Other services on post are also ensuring their personnel are fully trained on the repeal act, as it affects the entire Department of Defense.
Fort Lee's 345th Training Squadron, a tenant of the 37th Training Wing from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is up-to-date with their personnel completely trained, said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Gill, 345th TRS command chief master sergeant.
"With the trainees who have gone through the training, they showed surprise that the military hadn't already rescinded the DADT policy," said Gill. "Some of the active-duty personnel had more experience with the old DADT policy, so there were some questions and concerns about sharing dorm rooms during deployments with someone who preferred same-sex orientation."
Another question that arose is whether same-sex couples would be able to share rooms during deployments and which agency would handle any issues with discrimination, Gill noted.
The Marine Corps Detachment personnel are at 100 percent completion for the training, said Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Robert Bailey.
"All of the Marines have been very positive about this repeal act," said Bailey. "What we saw during the training was exactly what was expected: professionalism. It doesn't matter for males or females, regardless of their orientation, as long as they are professional, there's no problem with them working together."
Marines know the rules and regulations, said Bailey. Once this act goes into effect, the Marines will abide by it.
"There will always be people with different beliefs," said Bailey. "The most important thing is to maintain good discipline."
The Army agrees and has put out the guidance that the mission and the basic tenets of the oath all military members take haven't changed. Leadership, professionalism, discipline and respect continue to be the underpinnings of the nation's military service.
The purpose of the training was to inform all military personnel about the repeal and its possible effects on the military, as well as reiterating the already set standards and professionalism throughout the services. Upon repeal of the DADT policy, sexual orientation will no longer be a cause for a bar to enlistment, retention, or discharge, according to the DoD.