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Oct. 13, 2016
Notes from the Pentagon

Pentagon issues handbook on sex change in the ranks
Political correctness remains a central characteristic of the Obama administration’s policies. Take the Pentagon’s new anti-discrimination policy on what a newly-published handbook calls “gender dysphoria,” or “the distress that some transgender individuals experience due to a mismatch between their gender and their sex assigned at birth.”

Under the new policies, military commanders are now responsible for approving or denying sex changes for troops who self-identify as the opposite sex, according to the 72-page handbook, “Transgender Service in the U.S. Military: An Implementation Handbook,” published Sept. 30.

“The commander, informed by the recommendations of the [military medical provider], the [service central coordination cells], and others, as appropriate, will respond to the request to transition gender while ensuring readiness by minimizing impacts to the mission (including deployment, operations, training, exercise schedules, and critical skills availability), as well as to the morale and welfare and good order and discipline of the command,” the handbook states.

The handbook is the result of a Pentagon policy adopted in July that permits troops who self-identify as the opposite sex while serving openly in the ranks. In the past, such cross-dressers were limited by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of hiding sexual orientation.

The new policy is controversial. Scientists say sex is determined by chromosomes at birth and cannot be altered by hormones or surgery, regardless of whether a person self-identifies as the opposite sex. Critics say the administration is seeking to politicize the armed forces by imposing new sex policies as part of liberal social engineering efforts within the traditionally conservative military.

The report contains “tips for commanders” from the Australian air force diversity handbook that include protecting the privacy of transgender service members and consulting chaplains, behavioral health personnel and medical providers in dealing with transgender people. Also, commanders are to “ensure bullying, harassment, hazing or any other unacceptable behavior is not tolerated.”

In response to concerns about showering, the use of toilets and other shared space, commanders “may employ reasonable accommodations, such as installing shower curtains and placing towel and clothing hooks inside individual shower stalls, to respect the privacy interests of service members,” the handbook states.

Military leaders also are urged to avoid upsetting transgender troops.

“In cases where accommodations are not practicable, you may authorize alternative measures to respect personal privacy, such as adjustments to timing of the use of shower or changing facilities,” the handbook says. “This should be done with the intent of avoiding any stigmatizing impact to any service member.”

Military members are told in the handbook not make assumptions about sexual orientation and to “speak up” when service members “are expressing opinions that may alienate others.”

Proper use of pronouns like “he” or “she,” “him” or “her,” in conversations is now required. “You should be sensitive to the use of pronouns when addressing others,” the handbook says. “This will vary by individual and unit. If there is ever any question about pronoun usage, do not hesitate to ask the service member how they wish to be addressed.”

Social transition for transgender people in the military can also involve the unusual practice of identifying a service member by male or female at different times of the day.

“Social transition, in the military context, will generally encompass living in the preferred gender after duty hours,” the handbook stated. “You may encounter a situation where you know a service member by one name during duty hours and another after duty hours; this all depends on the individual’s transition.”

Medical treatment can include behavioral health care, the use of hormones that may change physical appearance, and surgery.

Retired Army officer Robert Maginnis, a critic of the new policy, said the handbook undermines the readiness of the military and should anger Americans over the misuse of scarce military resources on politically correct policies. Military medicine under President Obama is now about meeting individual desires, not contributing to combat readiness, he said.

“This policy forces the military to deflect valuable resources better spent on improving the readiness of the force to focus on the mental and emotional well-being of anyone who wishes to serve,” Mr. Maginnis said. “This is a very dangerous path to pursue for the armed forces and America.”

Obama vows retaliation for hack
The White House is promising unspecified retaliation against Russia for its hacking operation aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

“The president has made it clear that we will take action to protect our interests, including in cyberspace, and we will do so at a time and place of our choosing,” a senior administration official told Inside the Ring. “Consistent with the practice we have adopted in the past, the public should not assume that they will necessarily know what actions have been taken or what actions we will take.”

Critics say the administration in the past has failed to take appropriate retaliatory actions against cyberattacks, such as after the North Korean hacking against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014.

Now the Russians have been linked to hacking against the U.S. political campaign.

A joint statement issued Friday by the Department of Homeland Security and office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that “senior-most” officials in the Russian government approved the hacking. The statement said U.S. intelligence agencies are “confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.”

“The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the statement said.

“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” it added. “Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.”

Intelligence agencies have been unable to link recent scanning of election-related networks in Arizona and Illinois to the Russians, although the scanning “originated from servers operated by a Russian company.”

Additionally, American intelligence agencies say it would be extremely difficult for hackers, even those working for nation-states, to alter ballot counts or election results through cyber attacks or intrusions.

State election authorities were urged to avoid linking voting machines to the internet.

Homeland Security has set up an Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group to educate state officials on cyber security for election infrastructure.

The administration official said: “The American public and our democracy are resilient to foreign attempts to manipulate public opinion. The U.S. government is committed to ensuring a secure election process and has robust capabilities to detect efforts to interfere with our elections.”

Documents and emails held by the Democratic National Committee were hacked along with the email account of John Podesta, campaign chairman for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Podesta emails, dating from 2008, include revealing details of internal discussions by Mrs. Clinton’s advisers on her email scandal, including discussions of how to deflect criticism for her use of an unsecure email server while she was secretary of state.

One email from August 2015 included a draft of a statement by Mrs. Clinton explaining why she used the private email. Clinton adviser Dan Schwerin says a revised version of the statement is “not defiant but not particularly contrite either.”

Mr. Podesta’s emails contain personal information that could be used by hackers and others, including his Social Security number and home address.

McCain staffer to PaCom
Eric Sayers, a national security staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is moving on to a new post in Hawaii. Mr. Sayers, a specialist in Asian security affairs, will join the staff of Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, located in Honolulu.

He will join Adm. Harris’ Commander’s Action Group, and work on global engagements and strategic initiatives for the commander.

Mr. Sayers supported Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain’s focus on China and Asia security over the past several years, including the need for a robust U.S. military presence in the region.

A year ago, Mr. McCain pressed Pentagon leaders to resume Navy freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea that had been halted for several years under Obama administration policies that sought to avoid upsetting China.

A month after the September hearing, the Navy conducted its first freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea since 2012. A second operation was carried out in January.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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