Defense Secretary Mattis puts Obama administration order on hold


Defense Secretary James Mattis announced a six-month delay to an Obama administration initiative to allow transgender recruits into the U.S. military, according to a statement released by the Pentagon Friday evening.

Mattis said in a memo quoted by the Washington Post that more time was needed to make a decision after consulting senior defense officials, adding that the delay “in no way presupposes an outcome.”

His decision was announced on the eve of when a deadline was set last year by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Military branches will delay processing transgender recruits until at least January 1, 2018, after the services have reviewed their “accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces,” Mattis said.

The findings of those reviews must be provided to Mattis no later than December 1st, said the report.

“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?” Mattis said. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military Services.”

“I have determined that it is necessary to defer the start of accessions for six months. We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.”

The transgender policy that is currently in effect, which was signed by Carter on June 30, 2016, banned the military services from involuntarily separating people who came out as transgender and allowed them to begin receiving medical care October 1.

BBC News reports:

A study by the Rand Corporation last year, commissioned by the military, estimated that there were between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender active service members in a total force of 1.3 million, with an additional 1,500 to 4,000 among reserve units.

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