ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) — The U.S. Navy has announced its plan for training all personnel on the Pentagon’s new policy allowing transgender service members to serve openly.
The announcement, delivered by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke, outlines the service’s strategy to prepare both senior leaders and rank-and-file sailors for the changes, according to Military.com.
“This training will emphasize policies and expectations of personal behavior,” the all-Navy message stated.
The first phase of the training starts Nov. 1. Mobile training teams will present face-to-face briefings to senior Navy officers and enlisted leaders — the “command triad” of commanders, executive officers, and command master chiefs, according to Military.com. The training teams will include Navy fleet representatives as well as subject matter experts.
Commanders will then be responsible for administering the training to the rest of the fleet.
The Navy announcement comes just before the Oct. 1 deadline set by Defense Secretary Ash Carter for the Pentagon to “issue a training handbook for commanders, transgender service members, and the force,” according to a department fact sheet.
The policy on which the training will be based, DOD Instruction 1300.28, takes effect Oct. 1 and lays out procedures “by which transgender service members may transition gender while serving,” as well as specifying medical treatment provisions and “procedures for changing a service member’s gender marker in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).”
The training, which all service members must complete by July 1, 2017, likely will include instruction on what the services deem mistreatment of individuals who identify as transgendered.
“We do not tolerate harassment of any kind,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Jessica Anderson told Military.com. “Treating all service members with dignity and respect is something we take extremely seriously, and when there are any indications that those values are not being followed, we will conduct appropriate investigations and take action as necessary.”
But some military readiness advocates are concerned the yearlong training effort is simply an ideological indoctrination taking advantage of a captive audience.
“Yes, they are implementing a social experiment. And they are doing so at high risk,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness. “It is going to have an impact on morale and discipline to varying degrees,” she added, noting only a small number of people claim to be transgendered.
“The problem is, in order to accommodate … those few, you’ve got to change the culture of the many,” she said.
Donnelly doesn’t believe that culture change will be limited to the training but will become part of the curriculum in all military schools, including schools and daycare centers attended by service members’ children.
“You have to have instruction from the lowest ranks on up,” she said. “And since this is a Department of Defense policy, that would have to affect the other schools as well. And we’re talking every school or institution from the military service academies right down to the elementary schools in the DoD school system … the largest school system in the world.”