Thirty-one retired military officers are calling on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKelly: Trump will deal face nuclear North Korea before his second term Trump aide says he 'NEVER met' Carter Page over 550 days on campaign trail Ex-adviser: Trump should tap CDC chief who will 'go to bat' for patients MORE not to reverse the decisions to open all combat jobs to women and allow LGBT troops to serve openly.
“As retired Flag and General Officers, we believe the incoming administration must firmly commit to ensuring steady leadership of our armed forces based on proven principles of military readiness,” the officers said in a statement Friday released by the Palm Center, an independent think tank that researches issues of gender and sexuality.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced his decision on women in combat last December and on transgender troops in June.
Both changes are still in the process of being implemented and could be reversed unilaterally since they are not laws. Some of Trump’s potential picks for defense appointments have expressed a desire to do so, and Trump has slammed "political correctness" in the military.
But the officers who signed Friday’s statement said that would be a mistake, as a more inclusive military leads to a better fighting force.
“More than half a century of history and research has made clear that an inclusive military that prioritizes talent and ability over social judgment and personal prejudice is an essential ingredient of an effective fighting force,” they said. ”This is especially true in a diverse nation like ours, which molds millions of individuals from countless different backgrounds into a unified whole capable of defending our nation and its interests.”
Women and LGBT troops have been crucial to the military for generations, they added.
“Their service has shown that they are highly capable warriors and that their peers are capable of serving alongside them,” the officers said. “No action should be taken to denigrate their honorable service, or to deprive the armed forces of their indispensable contributions.”
The American Military Partner Association (AMP), the nation's largest organization of LGBT military families, applauded the officers for speaking out.
“Many of our LGBT military families are on edge over comments that have been made by potential new administration officials, and it's a distraction from the mission that no military family should have to face,” AMPA president Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement. “All of our nation's heroes, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It's crucially important that any efforts by anti-LGBT activists to target minority service members be stopped."