Sen. Jim Inhofe, who serves as a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is now urging the Defense Department to toss out its vaccine mandate.
Inhofe crafted a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calling on the Pentagon to bring the “haphazardly implemented and politically motivated vaccine mandate,” to an end, despite a large majority of troops serving in the military already being vaccinated.
Each military branch has its own deadline for compliance to the vaccine mandate for active-duty and reserve troops. The Air Force’s mandate for all active airmen to get vaccinated by Nov. 2 is the earliest for the military.
“At a time when our adversaries continue to increase their quantitative and qualitative advantage against our forces, we should seek to ensure that no policy, even unintentionally, hinders military readiness,” Inhofe went on to say in a letter Monday. “Most troublesome is the lack of clarity and consistency among the services as they look to implement the administration’s hasty vaccination mandate. Combined with the uncertainty and burden the vaccination mandate places on industry, this administration will do more damage to the nation’s security than any external threat.”
Inhofe’s letter comes as each military branch has at least 85% of all active-duty troops partially or fully vaccinated.
As of Oct. 12, 95.9% of active-duty airmen are either fully or partially vaccinated. Just one day later, the Navy reported 94% of sailors had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Similarly, 85% of the Marine Corps and 90% of the Army have been vaccinated as of Oct. 7, according to Military.com .
Despite the high vaccination rates among active forces, each of the reserves has a later deadline and lower vaccination rate.
Currently, the Navy Reserve stands at 68 percent vaccinated, along with the Air Force Reserve. Both the Army and Marine Corps reserves are hovering around 40 percent as of earlier this month.
Soldiers who are refusing to take the vaccine are able to apply for a religious or medical exemption. However, if a soldier does not receive approval for either of these requests, refusal to get vaccinated will result in heavy consequences, including removal from the service.
“In the letter, Inhofe requested Austin to explain the total cost associated with discharging the service members who fail to comply, the cost associated with replacing those vacancies, the expected impact on mission readiness, and the anticipated cost to contractors who fail to comply with the mandate,” the report notes.
The Oklahoma senator ended his letter by stating that he wanted to hear from Austin by Nov. 1.
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