Politics & Government

'Don't ask, don't tell' shift catches South Florida recruiters by surprise

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it had issued orders to military recruiters to accept enlistment papers from openly gay applicants -- a stopgap measure while it seeks to reinstate its beleaguered 'don't ask, don't tell policy.

Word had yet to reach South Florida recruiters surveyed by The Miami Herald.

``I've not heard anything with regard for that,'' said Army Maj. Adrian Brockington, executive officer of the Miami Recruiting Battalion, which would disseminate the instructions to neighborhood recruiting stations. Spokesmen for the Marines, Air Force and Navy echoed the sentiment.

The Pentagon said it issued the instructions Monday, a week after a judge struck down the 17-year-old law banning openly gay men and women from serving.

But the Justice Department is seeking to appeal the decision before gay applicants are processed -- a possibility that suggested would-be recruits should still keep their sexual orientation to themselves.

Marine Staff Sgt. Robert Fisher, public affairs officer for the South Florida Marine recruiting stations, said he had only heard about the new guidelines unofficially through the media. ``I just saw the news story myself,'' he said. ``We haven't gotten any guidance at the local substation recruiting level.''

Such a policy change, Fisher said, ``filters down the chain of command'' from the Marine Corps Recruiting Command up north. ``Where it's at in the current level, I don't know.''

Each of the four services recruit separately through a chain of neighborhood and regional offices.

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