General James Conway, the current Commandant of the Marine Corps who is set to retire this fall after more than 40 years of service, spoke frankly to reporters & answered questions on Marine operations in Afghanistan, addressed why it is so foolish to announce a specific date in which we intend to withdraw, and his recent trip there.
He also discussed his opposition to changing the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military, and his reasons for it.
“We have some people that are – that are very religious, and I think in some instances – I couldn’t begin to give you a percentage – but I think in some instances we will have people that say that homosexuality is wrong and they simply do not want to room with a person of that persuasion because it would go against their religious beliefs.”
In response to why Marines appeared to have more of an issue with changing the policy than perhaps other branches of the military, he stated, “That’s a tough question to answer because I’m not as familiar with the other services as I am my own Corps…we recruit a certain type of young American, a pretty macho guy or gal, that is willing to go fight and perhaps die for their country.”
He added, “We are forced to live in close proximity aboard ship, in the field for long periods of time and that type of thing…and we’d just as soon not see it change.”
Last February Conway told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “At this point, I think that the current policy works. My best military advice to this committee, to the Secretary, to the President would be to keep the law such as it is.”
It appeared Tuesday he has not changed his stance on the issue.
“Unlike the other services, we have consciously, for decades now, billeted by twos. So if the law changes, we start out with a problem in terms of how to address that…I do not believe there’s money out there to build another requirement for BEQs (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters) to allow every Marine to have a room by his or herself. So how we deal with the billeting problem is going to be one of that myriad of issues that we’ll have to face.”