How will Pentagon handle 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal? Five questions answered.

For the US military, there are a number of lingering questions about how to implement the legislation repealing 'don’t ask, don’t tell.' But a Pentagon supplement released in November offers clear answers on a number of matters relating to the repeal.

1. Early discharges

Jim Young/Reuters
Lt. Dan Choi, a gay Army officer honorably discharged under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, gets a hug before President Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, lifting the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the US armed forces on Dec. 22.

The Pentagon has no plans to establish a new category of early release from the military for service members who have moral, religious, or other objections to working and living with openly gay troops.

“The Department of Defense does not permit the early discharge of service members based upon their opposition to the repeal of any new policy. This includes Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or objection to serving with or living in the company of any service member,” according to the Pentagon’s “Supplement Plan for Implementation.”

But commanders will have some discretion in the matter. Existing regulations do allow service members to request early, voluntary discharge, if commanders authorize it.

The supplement plan’s authors emphasize that such a request should only be granted when doing so would be in the best interest of the military – if the service member is causing a huge disruption, for example. During a time of war, officials say, commanders who approve such requests are likely to be few and far between.

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