June 21, 2004

Mission-Critical Specialists Discharged For Homosexuality

New Data Reveal Extensive Talent Loss Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

SANTA BARBARA, CA,  — In the wake of last week’s Senate vote authorizing the Army to add 20,000 new soldiers, newly-available data provide fresh details about many of the 9,682 service members discharged for homosexuality under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. (Please click here to access the data.  This zip file contains the dataset, as well as an explanation of the dataset.)

According to the data, the military discharged gays and lesbians serving in 161 different occupational specialties between 1998-2003, including 49 nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare specialists, 90 nuclear power engineers, 52 missile guidance and control operators, 150 rocket, missile and other artillery specialists, and 340 infantrymen.

The data, which were collected by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) in Seaside, California, were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Center for the Study for Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM), a research unit of the University of California, Santa Barbara. While the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law has been in effect since 1993, the newly-released data only extend back to 1998. A Pentagon spokesperson told CSSMM researchers that earlier data are not available.

With regard to foreign language specialists, the military discharged 73 service members from the Presidio of Monterey, home of the Defense Language Institute (DLI), and 15 specialists in language interrogation, for an apparent total of 88 linguists between 1998-2003. The CSSMM has submitted a second FOIA request to determine the specific language expertise of the discharged linguists, and to determine whether all of those discharged from the DLI were linguists.

The new data reveal a much higher loss of language expertise than previously known. In November 2002, CSSMM broke the story of 7 Arabic linguists discharged for homosexuality in The New Republic, and the Washington Post reported in December 2003 that 37 linguists had been discharged for homosexuality in the previous two years.

This week’s newly-released data also show that gay and lesbian service members have been discharged from 241 different American military bases and posts located throughout the world, from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany to Camp Butler in Okinawa, to Camp Red Cloud in Uijongbu in Korea, to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

According to Aaron Belkin, CSSMM Director, “the new data suggest that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has undermined every area of the military. We have lost valuable talent from almost every base and every occupational specialty, including mission-critical linguists and infantry men.”