Shock and Awe: The White House changes position on transgendered military service

Source:     The New York Times     The Washington Post     Associated Press

President Trump’s announcement concerning transgendered individuals in the military came across like a Shock and Awe campaign.  The announcement caught everyone by surprise and left the Pentagon and other’s in the White House stuttering for words in its wake.  To get a better understanding of what is happening here we need to look at President Trump’s agenda for the past six months.  Most of the policy changes President Trump has attempted are squarely aimed at reversing Obama era policies; without care if it is right or wrong to do so.  President Trump has made no secret of his displeasure with democrats and former President Obama, especially when it comes to his Twitter account.  However, as we have seen President Trump’s replacement policies are often misguided, ill prepared, or non-existent until after the fact (or so it seems).

With that said, it appears this is just another Obama era policy President Trump wants to reverse, merely for the sake of doing so.  I say this for two reasons, first in 2010 the senate struck down the ban on gay and lesbians openly serving in the military (don’t ask, don’t tell); and second transgendered individuals were given the right to serve in 2016.  Both policy changes occurred during President Obama’s two terms and were accepted by the military.   As a side note, military combat jobs were open to women in December 2016 as well.

Should the change in policy take hold the effect on the LBGT community will extend beyond the military and may revitalize the negative stigma in our society.   The problem with this kind of unpopular policy change is that it will undoubtedly get reversed, again, under the next president.  Furthermore, the president and his advisors miss the fact that making these abrupt policy changes cause more harm than leaving everything as is.  Whenever you introduce new policy or people into an environment, especially in a military environment, a whole new learning curve begins that temporarily disrupts normal duties and readiness until everyone adjusts, to put in general terms.  So, to keep making these changes constantly starts this cycle of adjustment over and over which has a compounding effect on readiness whether in the military or corporate America.

Already communications from the Pentagon is that everything is status quo at the moment concerning transgendered individuals serving in the military.  This suggests, and has already been reported, that there is little to no guidance from the White House on how to proceed after the announcement.  I would hope, and strongly suspect, there will be some push back from congress on both sides of the isle; hopefully enough to stall off any change for a while and to let this quietly resolve itself.

Public outcry is loud and grabbing the attention of the career politician across the board.  This then creates an interesting dynamic in congress; continue to support the president’s unpopular policy changes and risk re-election, or distance themselves quietly and do what they can to keep the federal government together and functioning.