Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday will take the first real steps toward lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military, announcing a yearlong review aimed at answering practical and emotional questions about the effect of lifting the ban, and imposing looser standards for enforcing the ban in the meantime.
According to US officials, the senior-level study will be co-chaired by a top-ranked civilian and a senior uniformed officer.
It would recommend the best way to go about lifting the ban, starting from the premise that it will take time to accomplish that goal but that it can be done without harming the capabilities or cohesion of the military force, officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the emerging Pentagon plan ahead of Gates' announcement.
While the review is likely to take a year to complete, and even more time to implement, its initiation will advance President Barack Obama's goal of repealing the ban and bring a divisive issue for the military and Congress back to the fore.