Friday, February 15, 2008

Architect Of DADT & The "Unit Cohesion" Argument

The views expressed by Dr. Charles Moskos, considered to be the "architect" of the DADT policy, are used by some opposed to repealing the ban against gays in the military. Yet it is interesting to note that Moskos has no problem with drafting gays during wartime, stating ironically, "Equality before the law has to supersede the virtue of personal privacy". He also believes the policy will end soon and doesn't buy the unit cohesion argument as noted in this 2000 article:

SLOWLY, VERY SLOWLY, the pressure is building to overturn the military's "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy.

"I think it's going to end."

That is Charles Moskos talking. Moskos, a professor of military sociology at Northwestern University, is generally regarded as the principal author and staunchest proponent of DADT.

Moskos told the magazine "Lingua Franca" he thinks the policy will be gone in five or ten years.

It would be easy to cite several reasons for its demise, from the increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians in civil society to the growing importance of the gay vote to both political parties.

But just as important, the arguments supporting the policy are unraveling and there is increasing awareness that its rationale is built on sand.

The reason most often cited for barring gays is "unit cohesion," the idea that the presence of openly gay or lesbian personnel would harm a unit's ability to work effectively.

But an excellent article in the October issue of "Lingua Franca" summarizes the evidence for and against the "unit cohesion" argument-and leaves the rationale in tatters.

Briefly put, the evidence shows that:

- Cohesion is a result or by-product of working together, not a pre-condition for doing so;

- Successful performance is due to agreement on the importance of the task, not social closeness or group pride;

- There is no evidence that more cohesive military units perform better in combat situations.

Surprisingly, Moskos himself seems to dismiss the "unit cohesion" argument as unimportant.

"Fuck unit cohesion. I don't care about that," he told "Lingua Franca."

Moskos' own argument is that gays and lesbians should be barred because of "modesty rights for straights." That is, people (heterosexuals) have the right not to be looked at as objects of sexual desire.

"I should not be forced to shower with a woman. I should not be forced to shower with a gay [man]," Moskos says.

That is what his argument in support of DADT boils down to: gays and straights being forced to shower together.

To his credit, he submitted testimony in support of SCPO Timothy McVeigh (no relation to the bomber), who was facing discharge under DADT. He also supported Stephen E. Herbits, an openly gay man who some criticized after his appointment as a consultant to then-SecDef Donald Rumsfeld.


Tim said...

Bah a pitiful defense based on personal discomfort. Should a military recruit never be asked to do anything uncomfortable? Would gays never be able to conduct themselves according the military rules of behavior? Ridiculous and an insult to the thousands of gays who are in the military now.

JohnAGJ said...

Agreed. I'm not unmindful of discomfort with communal showers, however, regardless of sexuality. I myself do not care for these and while I served became very quick at finishing up when I had to use them. Yet there has already been a movement for more private facilities without delving into sexuality. In the early 1990s I remember barracks that had private showers and rooms that were more like on college dorm rooms than military ones. I'm sure more has been done since I was in. Instead of putting this up as a reason to prevent gays from openly serving, one would think studying what our allies do that no longer have such a ban would be a good idea.