Robert Gates, speaking to U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea, urged them to complete a survey sent to 400,000 active and reserve service members as part of a Defense Department review of the policy, a department release said Tuesday.
"If the law changes and we are told to implement it -- and we will, if the law changes -- then how do we do this in a way that makes sense?" Gates said.
"How do we identify beforehand the problems, the issues and the challenges that we're going to face? The kind of training requirements we're going to need, the kinds of changes in regulations, the impact on benefits -- all of these things need to be addressed in advance," Gates told the soldiers.
"And that's where we want to hear from you all."
Noting the Senate has passed a bill to change the law, Gates said the changes must be addressed properly.
"I've told the Congress -- I've been pretty blunt with them -- there are two ways to carry out change: There's a smart way, and there's a stupid way," he said. "If the law changes and we carry out this change, I'm determined that we do it smart, and in a way that has the least possible impact on our force, on our families and on unit cohesion."