Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declined to say whether or not he objects to the dishonorable discharge of army service members who refuse COVID-19 vaccination.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama posed the query throughout an Armed Providers Committee listening to Tuesday, wherein the highest army official was grilled alongside Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, U.S. commander of Central Command, in regards to the Biden administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal, amongst different issues.
“We now have a [military code] that basically addresses the entire points within the army and offers our management what they want to have the ability to implement requirements,” Austin stated when requested in regards to the consequence of forgoing vaccination.
“Taking the vaccine is a requirement, and once more, I am going to simply go away it at that,” he concluded.
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President Joe Biden urged the Pentagon in July to develop plans to require coronavirus vaccinations amongst service members.
“Our women and men in uniform who defend this nation from grave threats ought to be protected as a lot as attainable from getting COVID-19. I feel that is significantly vital as a result of our troops serve in locations all through the world, many the place vaccination charges are low and illness is prevalent,” Biden stated .
Service members are already required to obtain 17 vaccines as a situation of service, though they could be exempt for medical or non secular causes.
Upon full approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, the primary amongst a number of accepted for emergency use in December, the Protection Division introduced it could transfer ahead with plans to implement a mandate. Though Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated on the time that management’s expectation was compliance, he famous final month “no person is searching for sturdy punitive disciplinary measures.”
Charlie Dietz, one other Pentagon spokesman, stated Monday the Protection Division is “not conscious of any discharges at the moment” associated to the vaccine.
Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas and several other of his GOP colleagues, together with Tuberville, sponsored a invoice final week to ban the dishonorable discharge of unvaccinated service members.