Levin, and apparently other senior military officials, are not pleased that the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the Secretary of Defense decided to violate military protocol – hell, violate the entire way our military is set up – and start polling the troops about what they think about the Commander in Chief’s decision, essentially giving them veto power over their own CINC.
When Harry Truman wanted to integrate blacks into the U.S. military in 1948, he simply ordered it done. When the Navy wanted women on ships beginning in 1978, it commanded its admirals to do so. When the Clinton Pentagon decided women should become fighter pilots, it issued orders telling the military to make it happen. For generations, the military mind-set has been, If we want you to have an opinion, we’ll issue you one. So why is the Pentagon asking troops how they’ll feel if forced to serve alongside openly gay comrades?
“This is a very dangerous precedent,” says Lawrence Korb, who ran the Pentagon’s personnel office during the Reagan Administration. “It gives the troops the feeling that they have a veto over what the top people want.”
But even a top officer acknowledges some unease. “We’ve never done this,” Admiral Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, said in February after Pentagon leaders endorsed ending “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and said they would survey the troops about it. “We’ve never assessed the force because it is not our practice to go within our military and poll our force to determine if they like the laws of the land or not,” he told an activist from the University of California’s Palm Center, which monitors the issue. “I mean, that gets you into [a] very difficult regime.”