According to a report from the Associated Press, the United States Army has begun the work of booting over 3,300 service personnel from its ranks. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said that soldiers who decline the COVID-19 vaccine are leaving the U.S. and its interests vulnerable.
This directive makes it the last branch of the Armed Forces to start discharging its members.
“Army readiness depends on soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Wormuth said at a press conference yesterday. “Unvaccinated soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness. We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption.”
The Pentagon issued a vaccine requirement last year for all active-duty members of the Army to be vaccinated by December 15. (This date was later than the November deadlines for the other military branches, likely related to the fact that the Army is also the largest one.) However, the Army self-reported a 96% vaccination rate as of December 2.
Two months ago, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Terence Kelley said virtually the same thing as Wormuth, and he made sure to highlight the existing precedent of vaccine mandates. “The Covid-19 vaccine is a readiness issue for the Army: our units and troops must be ready to deploy and fight,” he told CNBC. ”
Unvaxxed Army personnel in leadership positions were to be summarily kicked out. Meanwhile, other soldiers who refused the shot without an approved exemption were to be disciplined and barred from promotion, transfer, or re-enlistment. “Required vaccinations are nothing new to the U.S. military,” said Kelley.
However, members of the Army National Guard and Reserve have a little bit more time before they face disciplinary action. Their deadline for the shot is June 30, 2022. Afterwards, those without an allowed exemption will be subject to correction up to – and including – discharge.