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DADT: Career on the line

From NBC's Courtney Kube
Despite Secretary Gates' announcement this morning that the changes to Don't Ask," Don't Tell" are "unanimously supported" by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one three-star general has expressed his disagreement publicly -- and now it may cost him his uniform.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, wrote a letter to the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes recently that outlined his opposition to repealing the law. (Full letter after the jump.)

When asked about Mixon's letter this morning, both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen called Mixon's actions "inappropriate" because in his leadership position, Mixon has great influence on other men and women in uniform.

The chairman went on to say that Mixon is "obliged to certainly follow the direction of leadership right up to the president," and to abide by the president's "strategic intent." He said if Mixon or anyone else feels "so strongly about it," then "the answer is not advocacy; it is in fact to vote with your feet." 

Mullen said that the Army issued specific guidance about dealing with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue during the review period and that Mixon's case is now "being addressed" in the Army chain of command.

Mullen dodged a question about whether he is calling for Mixon to resign, saying, "That's a decision that would certainly be up to him."

But one Army official said that this highly decorated Army general did nothing wrong and was simply expressing his own opinion. The official said that the February 2010 guidance on dealing with the DADT issue directed Army leaders to continue to implement and execute the law during the review period ... and said nothing about keeping your opinions to yourself. 

The official said that the Army is not likely to fire Mixon, but that the chairman's comments will force him to resign. He has been a three-star general since Feb. 1, 2008, so Congress will have to approve his retirement and determine whether he will retire as a two-star or three-star general.

The Army will release a statement later this afternoon, saying that Mixon was expressing his own opinion and not that of the larger Army.

Here is a copy of the letter Mixon sent to Stars and Stripes:

Let your views be known
Stars and Stripes
Letters to the Editor, Monday, March 8, 2010

The recent commentaries on the adverse effects of repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy were insightful.

It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate. I suspect many servicemembers, their families, veterans and citizens are wondering what to do to stop this ill-advised repeal of a policy that has achieved a balance between a citizen's desire to serve and acceptable conduct.

Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon
Fort Shafter, Hawaii