Pentagon formally begins kicking unvaccinated troops out of the military

President Joe Biden, by way of an executive order, made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for most federal employees and contractors, including both civilians and uniformed personnel in the Defense Department, a move that is fully supported by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The deadline for members of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force to get vaccinated was Monday, and at least 40 service personnel in those branches have already been discharged for their noncompliance, U.S. News & World Report revealed.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told the outlet, “Now that the deadline has passed, there’s a clear line to begin holding people accountable.”

Firing the troops

According to U.S. News, roughly three dozen of those discharged for failing to get vaccinated by the deadline were new enlistees that were either still in basic training or in technical training learning a specialty prior to receiving their first assignment.

However, it is estimated that around 10,000 airmen and guardians in the combined service branches were still unvaccinated for a variety of reasons, and it was unclear exactly what would happen to them and when if they continued to defy the order to receive a vaccine.

Individual unit commanders have been granted flexibility in enforcing the mandate and have a range of options at their disposal in that regard, from counseling to demotions or docked pay to even being brought up on formal charges and discharged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Biden to defy court order

That said, an unknown portion of the estimated 10,000 unvaccinated members of both of the aforementioned branches have applied for, or have been granted, an exemption, be it for administrative, medical, or religious reasons.

Fox News reported that a federal judge in Washington, D.C. last week issued an order urging the Biden administration to not terminate any unvaccinated personnel seeking a religious exemption, at least until after litigation challenging the order — and alleged dearth of granted religious exemptions — could be settled.

“None of the civilian employee plaintiffs will be subject to discipline while his or her request for a religious exception is pending,” D.C. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in the order. Likewise, she added that “active duty military plaintiffs, whose religious exception requests have been denied, will not be disciplined or separated during the pendency of their appeals.”

Unfortunately, the Biden administration announced Friday that it would blatantly defy that judge’s order and proceed with disciplinary measures, including termination, of any unvaccinated service personnel if deemed necessary.

Austin supports mandate

As for the Defense Department, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, in a press briefing Monday, reiterated Sec. Austin’s support for the mandate as well as the flexibility of commanders in enforcing it as they best saw fit, though it was hoped that such disciplinary measures would be implemented with a “sense of compassion and understanding.”

Meanwhile, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is reportedly still awaiting a response to a letter he sent weeks ago to Sec. Austin in which he asked a series of pertinent questions regarding the costs of discharging unvaccinated personnel in terms of lost expertise, training, unit cohesion, and military readiness.

Latest News