Defense Sec. Mattis assembling panel to discuss transgender troops

In this June 28, 2017, photo, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Mattis is giving the military chiefs another six months before they begin allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says he made the decision June 30. A Mattis memo obtained by The Associated Press says he wanted to give the services time to insure the change won’t affect the readiness and lethality of the force. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is assembling a panel of experts to discuss the matter of openly transgender individuals already serving in the U.S. military.

President Donald Trump on Friday directed the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, but he gave Mattis the authority to decide those already serving.

Trump’s order: Bar all transgender troops from US military

Mattis says in a statement released Tuesday that the Pentagon, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, will develop a plan that “will promote military readiness, lethality and unit cohesion.”

He says, “Panel members will bring mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and seasoned judgment to this task. ”

The White House had said Friday that transgender people would be allowed to continue serving until Mattis had completed such an analysis.

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