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Marine chief: 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal could be deadly 'distraction'

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“I don’t want to lose any marines to the distraction,” he said. “I don’t want any marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center military hospital in Maryland] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”

Surveys in the Pentagon report showed that the majority of troops believed a change in the law would have a positive or no impact on US military effectiveness. Mullen and Secretary Gates cited these findings in recommending a repeal.

'No margin for distraction'

But Amos took something else from the report: While troops who were not in combat were less concerned about serving with gay comrades, for those who are at war, “there is no margin for distraction,” Amos said.

“This was not a flippant, rush-right-in preparation,” he added. “This was a very, very deep, thoughtful – I read the report, the survey over and over again.”

As to how, precisely, openly homosexual service members would affect unit cohesion, particularly given that gay service members are now serving in the marines, Amos said he was not able to offer any examples.

“I don’t have an answer to that,” he said. “I can’t answer what kind of behavior” that might be. “I just know in that environment there is no margin for error.”

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