WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Pentagon will use a three-step process to prepare to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
Gates said the department wants to implement repeal of the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy, in effect since 1993, as expeditiously as possible, the department said Friday in a release.
"Our goal here is to move as quickly, but as responsibly, as possible," Gates said. "The first is to finalize changes in regulations (and) policies, (and) get clearer definition on benefits."
The second phase is to prepare training materials that will be used by personnel who are in daily contact with service members, Gates said.
The third phase will be the actual training, Gates said
"We're trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible," the secretary said. "My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks, so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people."
Gates said Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, would lead the effort.
Mullen said the legislation, signed into law Dec. 22, reiterated the repeal will go into effect only after he, Gates and President Obama certify new policies and regulations are consistent with standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and retention.
"From my perspective ... now is not the time to 'come out,' if you will," Mullen said, noting even after the required certification occurs, the current law will remain in effect for 60 additional days.
"We'll get through this," he said. "We'll do it deliberately. We certainly are focused on this, and we won't dawdle."