Pentagon Formally Ends Troops' COVID Vaccine Mandate

On Tuesday, the Pentagon ended its COVID vaccination mandate, although Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also issued a memo giving commanders discretion to consider vaccination status when deploying troops. The mandate had been in effect since Austin signed a memo in Aug. 2021.

Pentagon Formally Ends Troops' COVID Vaccine Mandate
Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images/FILE via CNN

Facts

  • On Tuesday, the Pentagon ended its COVID vaccination mandate, although Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also issued a memo giving commanders discretion to consider vaccination status when deploying troops. The mandate had been in effect since Austin signed a memo in Aug. 2021.
  • The mandate’s end was required by the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed by Pres. Biden in December. During the debate over the bill, Republicans pushed for the removal of the mandate, a point Democrats ultimately conceded in order to finish the legislation and submit it to the president.
  • More than 8.4K troops were forced out of the military for refusing the lawful order to receive the vaccine. The Act's revocation of the vaccine requirement did not reinstate those who were discharged or had their benefits cut.
  • According to Austin’s memo, service members can petition the military to amend how their discharge was characterized. There has also been discussion of reinstating some discharged members who wish to return to duty.
  • According to Austin, all other Defense Department policies, including mandates for other vaccines, remain in effect.

Sources: PBS NewsHour, CNN, FOX News, and Daily Wire.

Narratives

  • Republican narrative, as provided by BreitBart. This is a victory for Republicans, who had to force the Biden administration to waive this ridiculous mandate that caused a major recruiting crisis, which made the US less safe. Troops didn't have the proper means to legally claim religious or medical exemptions and forcing them to take a vaccine that wasn’t fully FDA-approved was in violation of their rights. Now the GOP can address getting those who were discharged reinstated with back pay.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by Washington Post. This is a dangerous move that’s only happening because Republicans extorted a concession from Democrats by holding up the National Defense Authorization Act, which had to be passed to fund the military and keep the US safe. The mandate should never have been a political issue since the COVID jab was just one of a battery of shots required of troops. This sets a bad precedent for morale and troop discipline.