Editor’s note: As we approach repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, SLDN is profiling key military and defense leaders, who will be influencing and making key post-repeal decisions. We continue our series with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Admiral Michael Mullen.
Admiral Michael G. Mullen was sworn in as 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 2007, after serving as Chief of Naval Operations for two years. His strong commitment to repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) played a critical part in helping to end the law. As Chairman, Admiral Mullen is the primary military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council, and he is responsible for managing all the service branches.
A native of Los Angeles, Admiral Mullen earned his degree from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1968 and his Master of Science degree in Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He later completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School in 1991.
Stationed on seven warships during the course of his career, he commanded Cruiser-Destroyer Group 2, the George Washington Battle Group, and the U.S. 2nd Fleet/NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic. From August 2003 to October 2004, he served as the 32nd Vice Chief of Naval Operations and in 2005 and became the commander of the NATO Joint Force Command Naples, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, playing a key role in Balkans peace keeping and Iraq training missions.
As JCS Chairman, Admiral Mullen was instrumental in garnering broad support among the chiefs and within the ranks for DADT repeal and articulated how dismantling this law will strengthen the armed forces. Breaking new ground in February 2010, Admiral Mullen and then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified in support of DADT repeal before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). This marked the first time the military’s top leaders voiced support for ending the ban.
“My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution,” he said at the time.
As the repeal debate intensified on Capitol Hill later that year, Admiral Mullen continued to make the case for overturning DADT. Following the release of the Comprehensive Review Working Group’s (CRWG) findings on November 30, 2010, he joined Secretary Gates in calling on the Senate to pass DADT repeal legislation by the end of that year saying, “We need to find ways to lead the way forward. Our troops and their families expect that from us, and I think the American people do as well.”
In testimony before the SASC on December 2, 2010, he reiterated his support for repeal, debunking the irrational fears of opponents, saying, “I would not recommend repeal of this law if I did not believe in my soul that it was the right thing to do for our military, for our nation and for our collective honor.” He added, “My personal opinion is now my professional view – that this is a policy change that we can make in a relatively low-risk fashion ... given time and strong leadership.”
Most recently, Admiral Mullen joined President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta in certifying to Congress on July 22, 2011, that the military is ready for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. Thanks to his courage and commitment to equality for all service members, this discriminatory law will finally come to an end on September 20, 2011.
Throughout his tenure, Admiral Mullen has also demonstrated exceptional concern for all our men and women in uniform, especially those who have been deployed numerous times as well as others who have returned home seriously injured.
Whether visiting hospitals to check on the troops or seeking to ensure they receive the medical care and attention they deserve – he has shown time and again that the well being of every service member is a top priority to him. Along with his wife Deborah, Admiral Mullen has steadfastly worked to expand various warrior and family support initiatives to include survivor benefits, suicide prevention, mental health, wounded care and veteran employment and education.
As he prepares to retire from his post on September 30, 2011, we applaud Admiral Mullen for his leadership and look forward to welcoming his replacement, General Martin Dempsey.
08-04-11 By Paul DeMiglio, SLDN Senior Communications Manager |