I wasn't very familiar with General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, until recently. General Pace has caused a bit of a stir and is coming under increasing scrutiny for remarks that he has made about homosexuality. The General, like myself, believes homosexuality is an immoral act. These beliefs are derived from his personal religious faith. Because he feels it to be immoral, he does not believe the US government and the US military should condone the behavior in any way. He was recently given a chance to clarify his remarks and, like a man of conviction, he refused to back down. Plus, he was on the verge of retirement, so what did he have to lose? He is careful to condemn the behavior and not any individual and he is sticking by his beliefs regardless how much criticism comes his way. General Pace has just earned a great deal of respect from me.
Current military policy on homosexuality is "dont ask-dont tell". The behavior is forbidden and out-of-the-closet homosexuals aren't allowed to serve in the military. Homosexuals can serve as long as they're not open about their sexuality. Bill Clinton implemented this policy on his own accord, without consulting his military advisors. He had no idea what kind of effect on morale or troop condition such a policy would have. It was a political move to appease a voting block and a half-hearted attempt to fulfill a campaign promise. Colin Powell did not feel it was a good policy, and his sentiments were shared by many military leaders. Unfortunately, they were not asked.
Some people think gays should be allowed to serve. Some don't like the current policy. Their opinions don't count. The military has two functions: Kill and Destroy. Everyone in the military does a job that in some way contributes to the military's ability to kill and destroy. Policy, regardless of what it deals with, should coincide with this. Will allowing gays to openly serve enhance the military's ability to kill and destroy? The only ones qualified to answer that are our military leaders. The military is not the place for social experiments.
Like a good soldier, General Pace upholds the current policy, but he is making his stand there. The obvious next step (as Senator Harkin has said) would be allowing openly gay people to serve (as well as allowing adultery). That would amount to the US military condoning homosexual behavior, which is what the General opposes, and would potentially become a social experiment rather than enhancing the military's ability to kill and destroy.
Eventually the debate about homosexual policy will occur. At that time, the arguments can be made on the merits of whether it is strategically wise to condone this behavior. I for one feel it is not, and not just because of my faith, but because of what I feel is best for a mentally and physically capable military force. I haven't seen any sound argument that supports the notion that allowing homosexuality and adultery in the military enhances it's ability to make war. For now, the argument can wait. General Pace has retired, bringing an end to a highly decorated career of honorable service. The General stands beside his personal conviction and I whole-heartedly salute him for it, in every sense of the word. It's men like him who we need leading our troops in a time of war. So long, General, God bless you for your service to this country.