Over a dozen high-ranking military officers have thanked President Donald Trump for his "bold" and "extremely courageous decision" to reverse President Obama's "transgender social experiment" in the U.S. military.
On July 27, 16 retired flag-rank officers - including three lieutenant generals, seven major generals, three brigadier generals, an admiral, a vice admiral and a Marine Corps veteran - sent a letter to President Trump applauding the president for barring transgender Americans from serving in the military.
"There may be an enormous amount of vitriol directed at you for making this policy correction, but please know that overturning this policy may have done more in the long term to save the culture and war-fighting capacity of the U.S. military than perhaps any other military policy you will adopt as president," states the letter.
As reported, Trump came under fire after making the announcement in a series of Twitter postings, which he said came after consulting with military commanders and experts.
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow ... Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," tweeted Trump.
"[Our military] cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," he added.
With his announcement, Trump reversed a measure that began to take effect last year at the direction of former President Obama. While transgender military personnel were allowed to serve openly with the new policy, Obama had delayed implementation of allowing transgender people to enlist until July 1, 2017.
Top generals requested a delay in that policy, which was approved by Secretary of Defense James Mattis on June 30. The new deadline was set for Jan. 1, 2018.
In their letter, the military flag-rank officers argue that keeping Obama's transgender military policy would have a "very high" fiscal cost to the government, citing a Family Research Council estimate of "between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion over 10 years."
"In addition, allowing transgender individuals to enlist would attract those persons who hope to have taxpayers pay for their 'transitioning,' including hormone replacement therapies and elective surgeries," it states.
"Mr. President, we note that your bold decision is supported by the American people who have a great reverence for the military," the officers' letter continues. "We believe you will be rewarded for this brave decision by the American people."
The letter warns that "even if it can be scientifically demonstrated that gender reassignment procedures medically benefit some individuals, there will still be concerns about the deployability of these individuals."
"DoD guidelines require that those serving in the military be 'medically adaptable to the military environment without the necessity of geographic area limitations,'" the letter reads, "However, both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery result in the need for specialized medical care which will not be available in all geographic locations."
"Aside from the time lost due to the non-deployability of the person transitioning, one must also consider the time taken away from commanding officers for transgender case management. ... Needless to say, that is time not being spent training or thinking about how to engage and defeat our enemies in combat. The shifting of CO [commanding officer] time would have been a real detriment to military effectiveness."
Among the signers are Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, former Commanding General of the U.S. Army in the Pacific; Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under President George W. Bush; decorated retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney; Maj. Gen. Michael Jones, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command; and retired Admiral James Lyons, who commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet under President Reagan.
The Family Research Council has also launched a petition of support for Trump's decision, called "Stand With Trump on Military Readiness." So far, over 18,000 people have signed the petition.
"The last thing we should be doing is diverting billions of dollars from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender reassignment surgery," FFC President Tony Perkins, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, said in a statement. "However, the cost to readiness, recruitment, retention, morale and cohesion would have been even greater under the Obama policy. As our nation faces serious national security threats, our troops shouldn't be forced to endure hours of transgender 'sensitivity' classes and politically-correct distractions like this one."