Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Don't ask, don't tell

While in Iraq a young male soldier came to me, pretty shaken up. He had checked his email and found that he had received a homosexual solicitation from a soldier on the FOB. The email praised his attractiveness, offered some explicit sexual acts, and invited his response. The message noted that the sender had seen the recipient around, and wanted to meet him, and wanted to have sex with him. The soldier was shaken because, not being gay, he was wondering if he came off as gay. He was also kind of angry, feeling that such a contact wasn’t right. He didn’t want to be around the sender, and requested a transfer.

Per the Army’s regulations on “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, investigation into alleged homosexuality is pretty tightly controlled. A soldier can’t be investigated upon a mere rumor. It takes an overt statement or act. Only the soldier’s commander can initiate the investigation, and who can be contacted during the investigation is limited. Since we had the explicit statements, we were justified in beginning an investigation.

The sender had used the Army’s email system to track down the email of the recipient, and he set up a bogus name to try to hide his identity. However, the latter effort was not successful, and we found the sender pretty quickly. His commander asked him if he sent the email, he admitted it, and he was discharged and sent home lickety split, within a couple of weeks. Normally a discharge takes a month or more.

The system worked pretty well. The sender’s identity was not revealed, nor was the reason for his discharge. A few people did know, of course, but word didn’t get around like you might expect. If the sender hadn’t sent the email, or if he had sent it to a willing recipient, no one would have known and he would have been left alone. The sender was a filler from a coastal state, not from one of the hometown units, so repercussions are unlikely, other than his military career is over.

I didn’t hear of any other gay soldiers, but lesbian soldiers were pretty visible. There was a general agreement about who was probably a lesbian, and I came to believe that the scuttlebutt was accurate. For one reason, I talked to a female soldier who roomed with an admitted lesbian. (They were both fine with that.) This source confirmed the rumors, and I guess she’d know as well as anyone. They seemed fairly open about it, but made no statement or committed no acts that would trigger an investigation. The command climate was such that it had many more important things to worry about than a person’s sexual orientation. As long as command was not forced to take action, it didn’t.

Thus, some of these gals were pretty casual about it. I ran into one when I was going home on leave and she was returning. She told me that her “partner” (code word for sweetheart) had split with her on leave, and she had to find and buy a new home, move out and then into the new place, all on her two weeks leave.

Interestingly, two of these lesbian soldiers were partners before we got mobilized. They were in the same section, and pretty much roomed together the entire deployment. In Iraq, the two of them shared a CHU, with just the two of them. Don’t you love the irony. A married couple couldn’t live together, and since they couldn’t even enter the other's living space they couldn’t have sexual relations. However the lesbian couple did get to room together, and do whatever they wanted, I guess.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

His career is over all right. He was out of Iraq and you were not.
I think he succeeded in getting what he wanted.

Mack said...

Anony,

It must be nice to be able to use your tele-psychic powers to instantly discern a soldier's motivations from across the globe armed with nothing but an account you read on a blog.

You're my new hero.

Dang - the moment passed. You're a goat again.

Chap said...

The third part of DADT, not often remembered until too late, is "don't pursue". A slightly similar incident in the submarine force (not an email solicitation, but a senior enlisted who put the wrong AOL address on an email to the ombudsman) resulted in much ugliness, lawsuits because of the ensuing, uh, aggressive investigation, ruined careers, etc.

It is always prudent to tread carefully on such waters...