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US Pentagon Scraps COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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On Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rescinded the Pentagon’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, a move required by Congress over his protests as part of the 2023 defense spending bill.

Austin wrote in a memo discarding the mandate under which the Pentagon says more than 8,000 military personnel were removed for declining to comply that he is “deeply proud” of the Defense Department’s actions to battle Covid-19.

“We have improved the health of our service members and the readiness of the force, and we have provided life-saving assistance to the American people,” he wrote.

The memo also said that the department would restart to encourage vaccination and told commanders they have “the responsibility and authority to keep the department’s compelling interests in mission accomplishment.”

“This responsibility and authority includes the ability to maintain military readiness, unit cohesion, good order and discipline, and the health and safety of a resilient joint force,” it adds.

Military personnel who were removed from service solely because of the mandate should be able to apply for a change in their release characterization, the memo says, but reinstatement is not mentioned. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) situation for the fiscal year 2023 that the declaration be ended was a success for Republicans. Members of the party pushed for the mandate’s expulsion and were intimidated to hold up the bill if it did not lift the shot requirement.

Austin said he has “not seen any hard data that directly links the Covid mandate to an effect on our recruiting.”

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