Pentagon still awaiting White House direction on transgender policy change

Posted at 7:20 AM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 07:20:39-04

Nearly a week after President Donald Trump wrote a tweet that appeared to reinstate a ban on transgender service members, the US military is still awaiting formal direction from the White House regarding any potential policy changes, a spokesman for the Pentagon said Monday.

“What you saw in the form of a tweet was representative of an announcement, that doesn’t result in any immediate policy changes for us. We will await formal direction,” US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters at the Pentagon.

Asked if Trump’s Wednesday tweets were the only White House guidance the Pentagon had received so far on the topic, Davis responded: “Correct.”

“We are now in the process of waiting for that to be formally articulated to us in a policy memo and we’ll be standing by to make that happen, until then (we) don’t have anything on it,” Davis added.

Defense officials told CNN last week that the Pentagon had asked the White House for additional guidance soon after the President’s tweet.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, including chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, were not aware Trump planned to tweet about a ban on transgender service members, three US defense officials told CNN Wednesday, an indication that top military leaders across all four service branches were blindsided by the President’s announcement.

Dunford sent a memo Wednesday to the service chiefs informing them that there will be “no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines.”

Trump’s tweets came less than a month into the six-month delay set by Defense Secretary James Mattis to review the US military’s policy on transgender service members.

A US official told CNN that Mattis was consulted on Trump’s plan to announce a ban.

But Trump’s tweets were quickly criticized by lawmakers, including chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. John McCain, who called it “yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”