Unit cohesion and the military's "Don't ask, Don't Tell" policy
Rea, Theresa M.
Eitelberg, Mark J.
Thomas, Gail Fann
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The Department of Defense policy of excluding known homosexuals from military service is partially based on the assumption that homosexual service members pose a threat to the cohesion of a military unit. The assumption is drawn largely from anecdotal evidence suggesting that junior service members would be uncomfortable in an environment that accepted homosexuals. This thesis examines the attitudes and opinions of junior officers to determine various aspects of unit cohesion that may be affected by homosexual service members. A series of seven focus group interviews were conducted with officers attending the Naval Postgraduate School in 1996. Analysis of the focus group interviews indicates that junior officers may be far more tolerant toward differing sexual preferences than is assumed; and that the commission of inappropriate acts, such as fraternization, assault, or sexual harassment, may form a stronger basis for exclusion of personnel than sexual preference. Military leaders intent on achieving and maintaining unit cohesion should reexamine the impact that homosexuals have on unit cohesion.
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