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CMR Leadership in Military/Social Issues

The Center for Military Readiness has established a strong record of  leadership in a unique field of public policy that affects military readiness and national security.  As an independent, 501(c)(3) public policy organization, CMR provides to members of Congress, researchers, media, and military families and personnel up-to-date information and analysis of military/social issues.

As a new organization in 1993, CMR organized an Armed Forces Day Conference, which was attended by several US senators in the Senate Dirksen Office Building.  The conference discussed the consequences of then-President Bill Clinton's move to repeal Defense Department regulations regarding homosexuals in the military.  Panel discussions involved experts who later assisted members of Congress in drafting legislation that codified long-standing Defense Department regulations regarding the eligibility of gays to serve in the military.  That law, Section 654, Title 10, USC, was mislabeled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," an administrative policy that President Clinton proposed but Congress rejected.  The actual law passed with bipartisan veto-proof majorities, and federal courts upheld it as constitutional many times.

In the mid-1990s, CMR advocated high, uncompromised standards in all forms of military training, particularly naval aviation.  CMR also analyzed and reported on the advantages of  separate-gender basic training as the best way to discourage sex scandals involving instructors and trainees -- a recommendation endorsed unanimously by the Kassebaum-Baker Commission.

The attacks on America on September 11, 2001, led to the largest deployment of female personnel in history to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Women have served with courage and skill in many military occupational specialties, both traditional and non-traditional, and became casualties of war in unprecedented numbers.  

In 2004 the Army began redefining and circumventing rules that exempted women from assignments in or near direct ground combat battalions − units that attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action.  Pressure and information from CMR led to house-passed legislation to codify rules regarding women in combat, but then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter to delay passage pending a report to Congress. 

CMR has taken a leadership role in national discussions about military family issues and sexual misconduct and abuse in the military, calling for justice and protection of rights of due process. 

CMR President Elaine Donnelly wrote a peer-reviewed article for the Duke University Journal of Gender Law & Policy, titled "Constructing the Co-Ed Military," which documented contemporary social change in the military since 1993.  Scores of articles and CMR Policy Analyses have been cited in major publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and other major newspapers and websites nationwide.

Issues of concern to CMR were included in the Republican National Platforms of 2000, 2004, and 2008, but victory for Barack Obama in 2008 put the issue of gays in the military back in the forefront of concern.  In 2008-2009, CMR initiated the Flag & General Officers for the Military project, which organized an unprecedented statement of support for the 1993 law regarding gays in the military.  The statement was personally signed by 1,167 retired military leaders, 51 of them former four-star generals and admirals.

In May 2010, the Air Force University Press published Attitudes Are Not Free: Thinking Deeply About Diversity in the U.S. Armed Forces, which includes a chapter by Elaine Donnelly, titled “Defending the Culture of the Military.”  Throughout 2010-2011 CMR organized and coordinated activities of the Military Culture Coalition (MCC), a network of organizations concerned about military/social issues, including rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Coordinating activities with like-minded MCC groups, CMR twice defeated legislation to repeal the 1993 law regarding gays in the military. In December 2010, however, the White House prevailed in the lame-duck session, largely due to efforts to mislead Congress and the public about a Defense Department survey of military opinions on the issue.  

In 2011 CMR obtained and published a Department of Defense Inspector General Report which indicated that an administration official was drafting an Executive Summary of military survey results in July, before the survey instrument was even sent out.  A misleading summary of survey results was leaked to the Washington Post, creating headlines that helped to ram the repeal legislation through Congress. 

In 2012 CMR investigated and reported a particularly troubling incident at Fort Polk, LA, in which senior chaplains quoted Defense Department regulations to community members who protested a same-sex marriage-like ceremony that took place in a dedicated chapel, in violation of state law and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  CMR has analyzed and supported legislation to protect marriage and religious freedom, which passed twice in the House and is pending in the Senate.

In January 2012 CMR produced a 15-20 minute illustrated PowerPoint presentation, titled Attitudes Aren't Free: Defending the Culture of the Military. The presentation explains why it is important to defend the best qualities of military culture, meaning "How things are done."  In August CMR provided information to the Romney/Ryan campaign and delegates to the Republican National Convention, which approved seven solid planks in the platform that call for an objective, open-minded review of all military/social policies adopted during the Obama Administration, and appropriate administrative or legislative action to remedy problems.

History requires a full and independent record and analysis of changes that make military lives more difficult or more dangerous.  A wealth of contemporaneous information, research, and policy analyses are available on the CMR website for use by members of Congress and staff, the media, and opinion leaders.  CMR's work gives voice to the concerns of men and women in uniform who are directly affected by unwise social policies. 

CMR will continue to advocate constructive changes that will benefit both men and women in the military. We have the strongest military in the world, and an obligation to keep it that way.

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Elaine Donnelly, President

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