Even as U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told a Senate Armed Forces Committee that the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about gays serving in the U.S. military should end, a young Indian-American Air Force officer played a significant role in influencing the decision.
Colonel Om Prakash, who works in the Defence Secretary’s office, had written an essay, The Efficacy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, for the Pentagon’s Joint Force Quarterly in 2009.
More significantly, that essay, written while he was at the National War College in Washington, DC, won the Secretary of Defence’s National Security Essay Competition for 2009 and was reviewed in advance by Adm. Mullen’s office.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or DADT policy was introduced in 1993 when Bill Clinton was the American President as a compromise to allow gays to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Before that homosexuals were proscribed from the services.
In the study, Col. Om Prakash wrote, “after a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly. In fact, the necessarily speculative psychological predictions are that it will not impact combat effectiveness.”
Priyanka Mitra of the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association said that she “was extremely delighted” that a serving officer from the community was “playing such an important part in the civil rights struggle of LGBT people.”