by WorldTribune Staff, January 11, 2023
The Pentagon formally rescinded its Covid vaccine mandate on Tuesday after Republicans forced Team Biden to back down via yearly defense legislation negotiations last month.
A memo from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released on Tuesday evening rescinds the vaccine mandate for active duty, National Guard, and Reserve forces.
Republicans have also promised to take up the issue of reinstatement of discharged troops with back pay in 2023.
The Biden Department of Defense had refused to consider rescinding the vax mandate until Republicans in the House and Senate fought to have it rescinded via the yearly defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes defense spending and policies every year.
The Pentagon said in a statement accompanying the release of the memo: “This rescission requirement was established by the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.”
The memo, however, also indicated that the Pentagon would continue to take action against service members who have not taken the shots:
“Other standing Departmental policies, procedures, and processes regarding immunization remain in effect. These include the ability of commanders to consider, as appropriate, the individual immunization status of personnel in making deployment, assignment, and other operational decisions, including when vaccination is required for travel to, or entry into, a foreign nation.”
Despite the mandate being rescinded, Austin said he “continues to encourage all Service members, civilian employees, and contractor personnel to get vaccinated and boosted.”
The memo said “No individuals currently serving in the Armed Forces shall be separated solely on the basis of their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination if they sought an accommodation on religious, administrative, or medical grounds.”
It said that the military would remove adverse actions for those individuals that were solely associated with denials of those requests, including potentially career-ending letters of reprimand.
It also said the military would cease any ongoing reviews of current service members’ accommodation requests.