Gates cautious on changing 'don't ask, don't tell'

April 16, 2009
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CARLISLE, Pa.—Defense Secretary Robert Gates says it could take years to change the the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay troops -- if it ever happens.

Gates spoke Thursday at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. He says he hasn't taken a position yet on whether gay troops should be open about their sexuality. That could lead to their discharge under the current rules.

But Gates says he and President Barack Obama have been discussing the policy and whether to change it.

Gates also noted it took five years for the U.S. military to racially integrate during the Truman administration.

Gates told reporters later that it's a touchy subject. He says to get people's real feelings on the issue, he almost needs to have a one-on-one conversation.

Gates is to speak Friday at the Navy's war college in Newport, R.I.