At a time when the US Armed Forces are desperate to recruit more soldiers, it has been revealed that an Army base in rural Missouri dismissed 60 men for being gay.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network have revealed figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that show there has been a spike in dismissals from bases across America.

At Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where in 1999 Pfc Barry Winchell was beaten to death by another soldier who suspected he was gay, 49 men were dismissed.

Overall 726 soldiers were dismissed in 2005 for being gay under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, the Pentagon revealed.

President Bill Clinton had promised to open the military to openly gay and lesbian people during his successful 1992 campaign for President, but caved into pressure from the Army – the compromise was the current policy.

It remains illegal to be a member of the US Armed Forces and be gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Since 1993, 11,082 members of the Marines, Navy, Army, Coast Guard and Air Force have been discharged.

C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN, said: “No American cares if the person who thwarts a plot to blow up an airplane is gay.

“We care that our nation is secure. Congress should repeal the archaic and counterproductive ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law immediately.”