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January 20, 2011

How much did it cost to enforce DADT? On average, $52,800 per service member

Today’s blog is courtesy of my fellow N&Ser, Jonathan Landay, who kindly pointed me toward an interesting report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office about the costs of implementing don’t ask don’t tell. The report studied separations between fiscal year 2004 and 2009 and found that on average it cost the military $52,800 (in 2009 dollars) for each service member forced to leave under DADT.

During that time, the military spent $193 million, including $185.6 million to recruit and train replacements, to remove 3,664 service members. That is, on average it cost $52,800 per separation. The Navy spent the most, on average $103,000 per removed service member.

As the report explains, “our calculations for the services’ replacement costs amount to about $19.4 million for the Air Force, $39.4 million for the Army, $22.0 million for the Marine Corps, and $104.9 million for the Navy. The Navy recruiting and training cost calculation is larger than the other services’ calculations because according to Navy officials, the Navy recruiting and training cost data contain both fixed and variable costs.”

The report captures other costs of implementing DADT. For example, 34 percent of those forced out under DADT were women even though women make up only 14 percent of the force. In addition, 79 percent of soldiers removed from the Army held critical jobs in the military. And the Navy removed 57 seamen and women who had critical language skills.

It’s the first report I know of that put an economic cost of implementing the law. You can read it here.

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"Nukes & Spooks" is written by McClatchy correspondents Jonathan S. Landay (national security and intelligence), Warren P. Strobel (foreign affairs and the State Department), and Nancy Youssef (Pentagon).

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