WASHINGTON -- Training for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military is going better than expected, military leaders told Congress today.
Top officials from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force testified before the House Armed Services Committee, with several telling committee members that training would be done as early as June.
"I'm looking specifically for issues that might arise coming out of the training, and the reality is that we've not seen them," said Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. "I've asked for feedback ... the clear majority of it is very positive."
This attitude is a turnaround for several of the generals who vocally opposed the repeal when it was being debated during last year's lame-duck session.
Last November, Amos said he was concerned about a possible loss of unit cohesion and combat readiness in the case of a repeal.
Amos told the committee that training for Marines would finish June 1. Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, gave July 1 as the Navy's completion date and Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, said his branch's training would be complete around June 30. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, did not give a date for an end to preparations.
Several of the officers added to Amos' statement that the process has been less painful than expected.
"Our training is going very well," Roughead said. "In those areas that we detected that there may be some areas of moderate risk ... it is not at the level that we had originally forecasted. It is going rather well."
Still, both Chiarelli and Schwartz said they were not willing to downgrade the level of risk to readiness of units from moderate, saying that they are not far enough in the training process to expect that there will be less risk involved than originally predicted.
The repeal will take effect 60 days after President Barack Obama, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that it will not be harmful to military operations to reverse the ban.