Mattis faces tough decision as divided generals and lawmakers seek his verdict on allowing transgender recruits

Secretary of Defense James Mattis visits the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2017, to pay his respects to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

Defense Secretary James Mattis is on the verge of making a decision regarding whether or not transgender troops should be barred from joining military service- and three retired generals are urging him to let transgender individuals in.

In an open letter by the California-based LGBTQ thinktank Palm Center, the retired Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, Major General Gale Pollock, and Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender urged Mattis to resist calls from some military leaders, servicemembers and politicians, who want to block transgender personnel from entering service.

“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has stated that he will make personnel decisions based on evidence about what best promotes force readiness,” the generals wrote. “If he is serious about that commitment, he will maintain existing policy and make clear that there will be no return to the days of forcing capable applicants to lie in order to serve their country.”

During the final year of the Obama administration, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was instrumental in both lifting a ban on transgender troops and setting a timeline on when military branches would begin accepting them.

However, Mattis -who had the entire affair dropped into his lap the day he first showed up for work in January- has received feedback from a considerable number of retired generals, officers, former servicemembers, organizations and politicians who want him to put the process on pause.

In fact, one such group of activists put out an open letter of their own, urging Mattis to focus more on military readiness than social experimentation policies that would have an effect on such a marginally small part of the general population, let alone the military.

The signatories claimed they “strongly support the principle of peace through strength and therefore the need for immediate action to return the priority of the Department of Defense to restoring America’s military readiness and ending costly and distracting social engineering.”

According to Metro Weekly, A spokesman for the Pentagon reported that Mattis has directed the various services to “assess their readiness to access transgender applicants” into the military, but did not issue a timeline for when a final decision would be made.

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