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Not so fast on 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal, say top Pentagon brass

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Mike Mullen have been strong backers of a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' But the heads of the Army, Marines, and Air Force said Friday the repeal could cause problems and should be delayed.

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The military service chiefs testify on Capitol Hill in Washington Friday during a Senate hearing on the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. The chiefs are, from left, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr., Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp Jr.

Alex Brandon/AP

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The heads of the US Army, Marines, and Air Force recommended against repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on openly gay troops, at least in the short-term, in testimony on Capitol Hill Friday – clearly dissenting from the secretary of Defense and the nation’s top military officer.

The Air Force chief of staff, for instance, said repealing "don't ask, don't tell" could impact military effectiveness. He called some of the assessments endorsed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen on the subject "too optimistic."

The Army chief of staff recommended repealing "don't ask, don't tell" only after America pulled back from its current war footing.

The testimony provided Republican opponents of the repeal with plenty of ammunition. Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona suggested that many more hearings on the issue might be needed before Congress makes a decision.

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