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Donald Trump's series of tweets saying his administration will ban transgender people from serving in the military was a blast from the past. It's the kind of caveman nonsense popular in 1959, when a teen-age Donald went to the New York Military Academy — the closest he ever got to actual service.

The uninformed and easily led Trump voter might believe that military service members actually care about the cost and disruption of transgender troops, as our president claimed. As someone who has served in a war zone and heard the sound of machine gun rounds flying in my direction, I can emphatically say: Wrong.

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War fighters care about whether you will have their back when the bullets start flying, not your gender identity.

Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, who, unlike The Donald, actually served our military, spoke for many when he said: "We don't care about gender orientation or identity or who you love. We just care if you can shoot straight and complete the mission."

Since The Donald deferred military service on five separate occasions, he missed out on the experience. He might also have missed the fact that two weeks ago, the House of Representatives actually rejected another measure against transgender people in the military.

Perhaps he was too busy tweeting to notice.

The Obama administration had been moving toward openness for these service members, and Defense Secretary James Mattis is said to have wanted another six months to think about the policy on transgender service members under the Trump administration when the president apparently made the decision for him.

epaselect epa06109305 US Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain walks to the senate floor to a vote on the motion to proceed on President Trump's effort to repeal and replace Obamacare in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 25 July 2017. Senator McCain's, who was diagnosed with brain cancer, vote was critical to pass the motion to proceed. EPA/SHAWN THEW ** Usable by LA, CT and MoD ONLY **
epaselect epa06109305 US Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain walks to the senate floor to a vote on the motion to proceed on President Trump's effort to repeal and replace Obamacare in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 25 July 2017. Senator McCain's, who was diagnosed with brain cancer, vote was critical to pass the motion to proceed. EPA/SHAWN THEW ** Usable by LA, CT and MoD ONLY ** (Shawn Thew / EPA)

Sen. John McCain, who also served, described the president's trans tweet storm as "unclear" shortly after it was published, and suggested everybody should ignore it until the Defense Department's ongoing study of the impact of transgender service on the military is reviewed by Congress.

A few facts the generals should consider. A 2016 Rand Corporation study said that there are 18 other countries — including Australia, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom — that allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. Rand found they serve with "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness."

As to the president's suggestion that transgender troops cost us too much, that is a big nothing burger. Rand estimated that fewer than 2,500 transgender people now serve in the U.S. military out of 1.3 million people — a tiny fraction. Of that group, Rand said between 29 and 129 service members may want to seek transition-related care that would disrupt their ability to deploy or cost the Defense Department money. Naturally, there are less draconian ways of dealing with this expense, such as simply stating that the Defense Department will not cover the cost.

But why would The Donald look at the facts, make sensible judgments,or allow a cabinet official the right to complete a review?

While the number of transgender service members is extremely small, our reaction to their service speaks to our values as a nation and our preparedness to fight wars in the future.

A friend of mine who served honorably in the 1960s was required to leave the military because of her gender identity. When she went, the Navy lost a committed, credentialed, patriotic service member. Today, my friend is considered a thought leader by military officials and serves in academia. "Even when I was dismissed" from the Navy, she told me, "my commanders wanted to keep me on because they needed every capable hand, and they knew what I could do as a leader."

While the numbers of transgender service people aren't huge, their work matters. These are real people serving in real places like Afghanistan, the South China Sea and the Pentagon. The president has tweeted that all of these individuals cannot serve "in any capacity."

We are burdened with an erratic commander in chief who every day shows himself to be a poor manager unconcerned with facts or the fate of honorable people. Defense Secretary Mattis now has a mess on his hands as transgender service members across the world are in sudden jeopardy. We should speak loudly on their behalf.

Nancy Langer (naflanger@gmail.com) served for six years at a security think tank; she is a Baltimore native and communications strategist.

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