By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, June 30, US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) issued a statement in response to the Obama administration’s announcement that they were ending the ban on transgender persons in the military.
Congressman Byrne said: “It is frustrating the Pentagon now has a strategy for transgender service members but they still lack an actual strategy for defeating radical Islamic terrorism. Once again it seems the Obama Administration is more interested in advancing a political agenda than they are in proposing sound policy. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to holding the Obama Administration accountable and ensuring their political agenda does not directly harm our military readiness.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality claims that over 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and over 15,000 trans people are serving in military today despite the rules forbidding them to serve openly.
According to original reporting by Richard Sisk and Bryant Jordan at Military.com: Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, “Otherwise qualified service members can no longer be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied re-enlistment or continuation of service just for being transgender.” Sec, Carter stated, “Our military, and the nation it defends, will be stronger” as a result.
Carter said, “We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission.” “Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so.”
Normally, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is present when the Secretary of Defense announces a major policy change, but Chairman General Joseph Dunford (USMC) was not present on the podium with Carter, who stood alone. Gen. Dunford was also absent when Carter announced that he was opening combat military occupational specialties to women.
When asked about Dunford’s absence, Carter said, “This is my decision.”
The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said this was “the latest example of the Pentagon and the President prioritizing politics over policy.”
Chairman Thornberry said, “Our military readiness — and hence, our national security — is dependent on our troops being medically ready and deployable. The administration seems unwilling or unable to assure the Congress and the American people that transgender individuals will meet these individual readiness requirements at a time when our armed forces are deployed around the world.”
The Pentagon will now pay for costs associated with transgender health care. “Medically necessary gender reassignment surgery and medications will also be covered beginning in about 90 days”, Carter said. “Our doctors will give them medically necessary procedures as determined by the medical professions. In no later than 90 days, the DoD will issue a commanders’ guidebook for leading transgender troops, as well as medical guidance to military doctors for transgender-related care.”
Meanwhile in the ongoing war against ISIS, according to Military.com, the US backed moderate New Syrian Army was repulsed by ISIS in their efforts to take the town of al-Boukamal.
A source with the US trained and supplied group told Reuters, “The news is not good. I can say our troops were trapped and suffered many casualties and several fighters were captured and even weapons were taken.” The force is regrouping in the desert.
In a major victory in the war on ISIS, Iraqi security forces have retaken Fallujah. US and Iraqi aircraft destroyed ISIS convoys fleeing the city on Thursday.
If the U.S. backed Syrian Army had taken al-Boukamal, then the suddenly reeling ISIS forces in Iraq would have been cut off from supply and reinforcement from ISIS forces in Syria.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.
(Original reporting by Military.com, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters contributed to this report)