The US Military Is Getting Ready For The Effects Of Getting Rid Of The Covid Vaccine Mandate
The US Military Is Getting Ready For The Effects Of Getting Rid Of The Covid Vaccine Mandate

The US Military Is Getting Ready For The Effects Of Getting Rid Of The Covid Vaccine Mandate

As the repeal of the US military’s requirement that all service members get the Covid-19 vaccine moved closer to becoming law on Thursday, military officials and experts warned that the change could hurt the military’s ability to be ready and service members’ ability to be deployed around the world.

“This doesn’t just affect us,” a defense official told about the change’s possible effects. “It’s what our partners and the people we’d train and work with want us to do to get into the country,” he said.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which came out on Tuesday, has a part that would get rid of the Pentagon’s order that troops get the Covid vaccine. Republican lawmakers were happy to see it in the bill, but the White House said it was a mistake. President Joe Biden hasn’t said if he will sign the bill with the provision in it, though.

The NDAA was passed by the House on Thursday by a vote of 350 to 80.  Sabrina Singh, the Deputy Defense Press Secretary, wouldn’t say on Wednesday what the Pentagon was planning for if the mandate was taken away. Instead, she stressed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin thinks the mandate is important for the health of the force. “Getting the vaccine is important for making sure the force is ready,” Singh said. “So yes, it would affect the force’s readiness—you’re more likely to get Covid-19.”

Not just the US is involved. Depending on where in the world an American soldier is being sent or rotated, he or she may need to get more vaccines. Singh said on Wednesday that the Pentagon’s current policy says that service members who haven’t gotten the vaccine aren’t ready to go.

‘Make Our Job More Difficult’

Retired Gen. Robert Abrams, who used to be in charge of US troops in South Korea, told that the decision to get rid of the vaccines “will make our job harder.” He was talking about the duties of commanders in other countries. The Covid-19 vaccine is needed to get into South Korea and Japan, which have a lot of US service members living there.

Abrams said that getting rid of the requirement to get vaccinated “will put the US forces in an awkward position” because “the host nation expects us to follow their rules (and SOFA requires it).”

Republicans have been complaining about the Covid vaccine requirement for a long time. The Covid vaccine is one of more than 15 that service members must get, depending on where they are sent. Austin signed a policy in August 2021 that said all service members had to get the vaccine. Each service decided when their troops had to be fully vaccinated.

Now, about a year later, almost all US troops are fully vaccinated. 97% of active duty soldiers, 99% of active duty airmen, 96% of active duty Marines, and 98% of active duty sailors are all fully vaccinated.

Critics of the mandate say that it is pushing out willing service members at a time when the military needs them the most and stopping recruits who want to join but don’t want to get the vaccine. This is happening at the same time that the military is facing its worst recruiting crisis in decades.

Gen. David Berger, the head of the Marine Corps, said over the weekend that the mandate is affecting recruiting because “in some parts of the country, there are still myths and misunderstandings about what happened.” Capt. Ryan Bruce, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, later told that Berger was talking about “anecdotal conversations” he has had with recruiters, not specific data showing that the mandate has affected recruitment.

The US Military Is Getting Ready For The Effects Of Getting Rid Of The Covid Vaccine Mandate
The US Military Is Getting Ready For The Effects Of Getting Rid Of The Covid Vaccine Mandate

‘Ripple Effects

Officials and experts also had other worries about how getting rid of the mandate would affect troops who were already in uniform. Rachel VanLandingham is a retired Air Force judge advocate and a law professor at Southwestern Law School. She told that if some service members can’t deploy because of the vaccine, it could have “ripple effects” on their units.

This is especially important for smaller units, like those in the special operations community. Conventional forces might be able to make sure they have enough people for deployment or rotation, but smaller units might have a harder time if the few people they have can’t go because they need to get vaccinated.

“If one unit can’t go, the replacement unit doesn’t get to go home on leave… VanLandingham said, “It’s not just one unit and one person.” “If one person in a military unit doesn’t show up for work, it affects the whole unit, and other units depend on that unit. It’s a team thing.”

Abrams also said that vaccinations “help prevent serious illness” and that US Forces Korea “does not have the medical capacity to treat a large number of very sick infected personnel.” Instead, he said, US personnel would have to be sent to Korean facilities. This could cause problems if there aren’t enough facilities or if TRICARE, the US military’s health care provider, doesn’t approve of the facility.

Experts also wondered what kind of example it would set if a lawful military order was overturned after so many people didn’t follow it. “As a commander, what worries should I have about how to handle this person who didn’t follow a legal order?” The head of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for New American Security, Kate Kuzminski, said this.

“I think there are some bigger problems in the social context and the culture of the military if pushing back on a legal order changes the nature of the legal order,” she said. “In the future, people might refuse to do other things that we need them to do.”

The question of what will happen to the roughly 8,000 service members who have already been kicked out of the military because they refused to get vaccinated is one of the debated parts of the vaccine repeal. Some people think that they will stay apart because they refused a legal order, but some lawmakers are trying to get them back together.

Thirteen Republican senators sent a letter to the Republican leadership on November 30. The letter asks that the mandate be canceled and that service members who have been kicked out of the military be brought back “with back pay.” Leaders at the Pentagon are reportedly talking about the idea.

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About Sam Houston 1811 Articles
Hello, I'm Sam Houston, and I'm proud to be a part of the team as a content writer. My journey into journalism has been quite an exciting ride, and it all began with a background in content creation. My roots as a content writer have equipped me with the essential skills needed to craft engaging narratives and convey information effectively. This background proved invaluable when I decided to make the transition into journalism. The transition allowed me to channel my storytelling abilities into producing news articles that not only inform but also captivate our readers.

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