Retired US general tells Senate committee gays weakened Dutch military News
Retired US general tells Senate committee gays weakened Dutch military

[JURIST] Retired US Marine Corps General John Sheehan [official profile] testified before the US Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) [official website] on Thursday that he believes the Dutch military's inclusion of openly gay soldiers is partially responsible for the severity of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archives]. Sheehan, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, made the remarks during a hearing [materials] charged with evaluating the future of the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy [10 § USC 654; JURIST news archive]. He argued that the Netherlands and several other European countries reconfigured their militaries for less demanding peacekeeping roles after the fall of the Soviet Union and subsequently "made a conscious effort to socialize their military – that includes the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality." The result, Sheehan contends, rendered their armed forces weaker and less effective. Dutch Minister of Defense Eimert van Middelkoop [official profile, in Dutch] called the comments "utter nonsense" [press release, in Dutch].

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 [text, PDF] was introduced [JURIST report] in the Senate earlier this month, and would allow gay soldiers to serve openly if approved. The repeal of the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has been an important issue for US President Barack Obama since he took office, and its inclusion in the State of Union Address [JURIST report] makes it clear that it remains a priority for the administration. In January, legal advisers for the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, suggested that he delay any internal efforts [JURIST report] to repeal the policy until 2011. In October, Obama pledged [JURIST report] to end the controversial policy. After the US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] to review the policy in June, the SASC announced [JURIST reports] that it would hold hearings to review it. In 2008, more than 100 retired admirals and generals of the US military called for a repeal [JURIST report] of the policy.