|General Joseph Dunford has announced “no modification” to military transgender policy following Donald Trump’s tweets Win McNamee/Getty Images|
by Emily Shugarman, July 27th, 2017
“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a message to military leaders.
He added: “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”
Mr Trump sparked outcry on Wednesday when he tweeted that the US government would not “accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military”.
The announcement seemed to take the Pentagon by surprise, despite Mr Trump’s claims that he consulted with “generals and military experts”. Sources told Buzzfeed that many at the Pentagon watched Mr Trump’s tweets roll out in suspense, fearing he was preparing to announce military action against North Korea. The Pentagon directed all requests for comment to the White House.
General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the US Army, said on Thursday he had no advance knowledge of Mr Trump’s decision. He added that was not unusual.
“I personally did not, but nor would I have expected to,” Milley said while speaking at the National Press Club.
✔@realDonaldTrump….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you
At a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White Househad not determined what would happen to the more than 2,500 transgender people serving on active duty in the US military.
“Implementation policy is going to be something that the White House and the Department of Defense have to work together to lawfully determine,” she said, adding that the Department of Defense would “keep you posted as that takes place”.
Pressed for more detail on the policy, Ms Huckabee Sanders threatened to shut the press briefing down.
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Mr Trump’s decision ends an Obama-era policy that sought to fully integrate the military by June of 2017. The policy was to be rolled out in waves, first allowing current transgender service members to serve openly and receive medical care.
The Trump administration was in the process of considering the final wave – allowing new transgender recruits to enlist – when Mr Trump made his announcement.
Defense Secretary James Mattis was troubled by the surprise announcement, according to Politico. Sources said he felt no need to rush to a decision, and was awaiting the results of an extensive Defense Department policy review. He had recently requested six more months to consider the roll-out.
Tony Johnson, a national security researcher and former Pentagon adviser, predicted the decision would not go over well with the larger military community, either.
“This is a complex issue for the uniformed services, and it is a complex and difficult issue for the policy makers,” he told The Independent. “But it should be said that in my experience, all those people have been dedicated to the principles and values that the US purports to have, and [purports] to defend across the world.”
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