Pentagon Calls for Compassion While Considering Penalties for Unvaccinated Service Members: Spokesperson

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for work commanders to enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate with compassion erstwhile unvaccinated work members look punitive measures arsenic the deadline approaches, a Pentagon spokesperson said connected Monday.

According to the latest information issued by the Pentagon, astir 60,000 progressive work work members are inactive not vaccinated arsenic of precocious past week. Officials said the numbers alteration regular and see those who whitethorn person gotten oregon requested an exemption.

“The caput has been precise wide with the leaders of the subject departments that helium wants them to execute the mandate with a consciousness of compassion and understanding,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Monday. “I cognize he’s made this wide to them that helium knows, arsenic a erstwhile commandant himself, that leaders person a scope of tools disposable to them, to assistance troops marque the close decisions for themselves, for the units, for the families—short of utilizing the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), therefore, abbreviated of punitive measures.”

Epoch Times Photo Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is seen successful Washington connected Sept. 29, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images)

“But clearly, it’s a lawful order. And so, helium besides trusts that commanders volition yet bash what they request to bash for the readiness of their unit. And if that comes to doing thing of a punitive nature, they surely person that close and that authority. It’s conscionable that the caput wants them to exhaust different measures earlier having to bash that,” Kirby added.

Kirby besides provided updates connected the vaccination complaint of work members arsenic of Monday. A full of 97 percent of the active-duty unit has had astatine slightest 1 dose, including 99 percent of active-duty sailors, astir 97 percent of airmen, 93 percent of the Marine Corps, and 90 percent of the army.

Pentagon has said that portion commanders astir the satellite would marque exemption decisions for medical, religious, and administrative reasons connected a “case-by-case” basis.

Kirby explained that administrative exemptions see those who program connected retiring soon.

It’s unclear however wide spiritual exemptions volition beryllium granted.

Pentagon officials indispensable explicate successful item however troops tin use for a spiritual exemption, the process for resolving the request, the criteria by which applications are judged, and the process the radical deciding connected each petition usage to justice them, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday, a George H. W. Bush appointee, ordered connected Oct. 29.

The Pentagon indispensable record the details by Nov. 12.

Commanders tin besides determination work members into different job, contradict them overseas deployment, oregon bounds portion entree if they get an exemption oregon portion a petition is being reviewed. Those steps whitethorn beryllium much communal successful smaller units specified a peculiar operations forces.

The Air Force is the archetypal to deed a deadline with much than 335,000 airmen and Space Force guardians to beryllium afloat vaccinated by Tuesday. The deadline for the Air Guard and Reserve is Dec. 2. According to Air Force data, arsenic galore arsenic 12,000 active-duty airmen and guardians were inactive unvaccinated arsenic of precocious past week. Some person requested oregon gotten exemptions. Others person refused outright.

Any refusal to person the COVID-19 vaccine, absent an approved aesculapian oregon administrative exemption oregon accommodation, whitethorn beryllium punishable nether the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), an Air Force spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email.

“Military commanders clasp the afloat scope of disciplinary options disposable to them nether Article 92 of the UCMJ and indispensable consult with their servicing Staff Judge Advocate for further guidance connected vaccination non-compliance,” the email reads.

The spokesperson besides told The Epoch Times that the Air Force would update the numbers Wednesday midday, including exemption numbers.

The maximum punishment for a usurpation oregon nonaccomplishment to obey lawful wide bid oregon regularisation nether UCMJ Article 92 is dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of each wage and allowances, and confinement for 2 years, according to Gary Myers, Daniel Conway & Associates, a instrumentality steadfast that specializes successful defending work members.

The much than 765,000 Defense Department civilians volition beryllium adjacent aft the Air Force, with a mandated vaccine day of Nov. 22. Civilians person until Nov. 8 to question an exemption, and arsenic of past week, less than fractional had provided vaccination proof.

Kirby said the Pentagon is inactive moving connected immoderate further implementing guidance for the civilian workforce that volition travel retired precise soon.

More than fractional of the Army National Guard has gotten astatine slightest 1 shot, portion the Air Guard is astatine 87 percent. Air Guard members indispensable beryllium afloat vaccinated by aboriginal December, portion the Army Guard, which is overmuch larger and much wide scattered astir the country, has until June.

The astir 350,000 Navy sailors and much than 179,000 Marines indispensable beryllium afloat vaccinated by Nov. 28 and the reserves by Dec. 28. The Army, the military’s largest work with astir 490,000 soldiers, has until Dec. 15 to beryllium afloat vaccinated. Army National Guard and Reserve, with a full of astir 800,000 Guard and Reserve troops, person until June 30, 2022.

Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Li Hai

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Li Hai is simply a New York-based newsman for The Epoch Times.

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