Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a Biden appointee, demanded that all military servicemen get vaccinated against COVID-19 in a Wednesday memo sent to service leaders.
“To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” Austin said in the memo, according to The Associated Press.
“After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease … is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people,” Austin further said in the memo.
The memo, according to the AP, did not provide a timeframe under which the armed services should vaccinate all their service members.
Nonetheless, it said that the military services must provide regular updates on how much progress they’ve achieved in the vaccine drive, the AP reported. The memo also ordered service leaders to “impose ambitious timelines for implementation.”
According to data from the Department of Defense, accurate up to Wednesday, 1,095,376 servicemen have fully been vaccinated while 247,291 servicemen have been partially vaccinated.
Reuters reported that, according to the memo, the vaccine service members should be taking is the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
“The Pentagon has said it has enough vaccine supply to meet demand. Individual service members may also go out and get any of the other COVID vaccines on their own,” the AP reported.
“Our vaccination of the Force will save lives,” the memo from Austin said. “Thank you for your focus on this critical mission.”
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The vaccine mandate comes as the United States is carrying out a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan under orders of President Joe Biden, raising concerns over what the Biden administration is prioritizing at the moment, whether the administration sees forcing vaccines on military service members as more important than ensuring a successful exit from Afghanistan with no American, allied or Afghan civilian casualties.
Even though Americans are at risk of being left behind, as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted herself, Biden has been unwilling to extend the deadline of America’s departure from the country.
Biden’s refusal comes as the Taliban has maintained that U.S. presence after Aug. 31 would be a “red line,” as reported by NPR.
On top of the Biden administration’s repeatedly downplayed mishandling of the withdrawal, the United States, under Biden, has been unable to provide a precise count of the number of Americans in the country before and during the evacuations, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The estimates reportedly range from 10,000 to 15,000 Americans before the start of the mass evacuations.
A U.S. official unauthorized to speak with the media told The New York Times that the Biden administration is betraying Afghan interpreters and allies who worked with the U.S. while it fought al-Qaida and the Taliban.
“Some Afghan military interpreters and other close U.S. allies, a stated priority group for evacuation from Afghanistan, are being turned away from the Kabul airport by American officials in order to give priority to U.S. citizens and green card holders,” the Times reported the official as saying.
According to NPR, the U.S., under Biden, is now relying on the Taliban to cooperate with the withdrawal, with the Department of Defense keeping regular communications with the same group that sheltered terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, one which the U.S., under President George Bush, vowed to remove from power.