Speaking a few hours before the Senate is due to vote on the defense authorization bill, battleground of the debate over repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the man nominated for Marine Commandant said he worries that repeal could affect "cohesion."
Gen. James Amos, the first Marine aviator nominated as leader of the Corps, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would not recommend repeal of the law barring homosexuals from openly serving in the military. "In my view the current law 9and associated policy) has been a reasonable compromise between the unique requirements of military services and the aspirations of qualified citizens who are interested in military service," he said in response to advance questions from the committee. Asked for his "personal views" on the subject, Amos said his "primary concern" would be "the potential disruption to cohesion that may be caused by significant change during a period of extended combat operations." Pressed hard by Sens. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Sessions for his views on repeal, Amos said Marines would have the freedom to express their opinions on the issue. But once Congress passes a law and the president signs it, he said the Corps would "snap to smartly" and implement it. His comments echoed those of the standing service chiefs, all of whom have voiced unease with the prospect of an important policy change in a time of war.
In terms of acquisition, Amos said the Corps remained committed to a 2012 IOC date for the F-35B. He stressed the positive effects it had on the commitment of the international partners who plan to buy the vertical take-off version of the plane. "I think it's pretty important we maintain that if it's at all possible," he said. Should it slide, Amos said the service would manage the existing fleet as needed, according to how many landings and takeoffs they have made, and other factors. "This is doable," he said.