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Gates continues to urge 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' survey response

WASHINGTON -- Servicemember feedback will make members of Congress and Defense Department officials better informed as those officials evaluate repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a letter to troops Aug. 12.

Department officials e-mailed surveys last month to 400,000 active duty and reserve-component troops. The surveys are part of a special review to prepare the military for a potential change in the law, which bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

"If you have not yet responded, please participate," Secretary Gates said in the letter. "Your response will help us assess the impact of a change in the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law and associated policy on military readiness, effectiveness and unit cohesion, should such a change occur."

Participation is confidential, Secretary Gates said, noting that a certificate of confidentiality has been obtained to protect the private contracting company that issued the survey. The company cannot be forced by subpoena, court order or other legal proceedings to disclose information that may identify participants.

"Your answers will not be linked to your personal identity," he said. "No one associated with the Defense Department will have access to identifiable data."

The surveys were e-mailed July 7. The deadline to respond is Aug. 15.