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Retired general downplays gay issues

Dec. 5, 2010 at 1:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A retired top U.S. Army general said Sunday successfully incorporating open homosexuals into the military would depend on the leadership of junior officers.

Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme commander and Democratic presidential contender, said unit commanders and their non-commissioned officers will be the ones who will be directly in charge of accommodating openly gay troops as they enter the service.

Clark said on ABC's "This Week" that conflicts among individuals are sorted out in the lower ranks and not by pronouncements from the Pentagon. "If there are issues, you deal with them at the lowest possible level," Clark said. "There are troops who don't get along because they don't like each other's music. There are troops who don't get along because they play different sports in barracks.

"But when you put them in the field and you work together, generally they do get along. It's a job of the non-commissioned officers and the junior officers to handle these kind of personal issues."

Critics of the proposed repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy said on "This Week" that opposition from the rank-and-file was strongest in combat units and that the presence of homosexuals would hurt their effectiveness in the field.

Topics: Wesley Clark
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