Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s Cost: $53,000 Per Dismissal


Stars and Stripes is reporting that the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy cost $53,000 per dismissal. According to the Government Accounting Office, the military newspaper reports, the Department of Defense spent “$200 million in administrative, recruiting and retraining costs over six years” discharging some 3,664 suspected gay service members from 2004 to 2009.

Although he said, “This is done” when he signed a bill in December that began the process of ending Don’t Ask, President Obama now has to oversee its conclusion over the coming months, which is technically still the law. Regardless, it’s highly unlikely any more discharges will occur.

The GAO report shows definitively that Don’t Ask did not protect troop morale or unit cohesion, but actively hurt both and was economically expensive. Don’t Ask’s defenders often wanted to say repeal would hurt retention, but the opposite was true. Millions were spent replacing the soldiers forced out, and the “majority of the expense came from recruiting replacements and retraining the new troops,” according to Stars and Stripes.

While 98 percent of those discharged were enlisted were officers, only 2 percent, like the
subject of our October cover story, were officers. Nearly half of discharges were in the Army, and nearly two-thirds were male.

Since the GAO has now proven that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hurt military readiness and cost taxpayers millions, we wonder if 2012 Republican presidential candidates will still call for its reinstatement. Then again, the Congressional Budget Office’s assertion that repealing the health care law would cost billions had little effect on the budget consciousness of Republicans, so we doubt it.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 21, 2011


Archive Highlights