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Nat. Guard Commanding General: “The Vaccine Mandate Puts National Security At Risk!”


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“The adjutant general of Florida says the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate seriously threatens military readiness,” the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) reported earlier this month.

“Maj. Gen. James O. Eifert adds making American troops get the vaccine endangers national security.”

“I’ve never been more worried about the future of the U.S. armed forces than I am right now,” he said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in August.

“One of the military’s most foundational duties is to recruit and retain men and women willing to defend their country,” Eifert added.

“Unfortunately, current federal policy is rendering that goal unobtainable.”

From NGAUS:

Eifert is thought to be the first general officer to speak out on the vaccine mandate, doing so in his capacity as a state official.

Eifert’s byline didn’t include his rank. He decried the DoD requirement’s potential impact on Guardsmen across the U.S.

“The Army secretary’s deadline for all reserve component soldiers to be vaccinated expired on June 30, leaving almost 40,000 National Guard members and 20,000 Army Reservists nationwide at risk of involuntary termination,” he argued.

“My Florida National Guard formations face the potential loss of about 1,000 unvaccinated guardsmen out of 12,000 total airmen and soldiers,” Eifert continued. “That leaves us shorthanded as our state enters hurricane season, while more than 1,000 soldiers and airmen are also deployed on federal missions around the world.”

Eifert claimed the vaccine policy comes amid domestic recruiting and retention struggles and rising global tensions.

“Only 23% of recruitment-age Americans meet eligibility requirements, and fewer still are even interested,” he noted. “Why should we further damage military readiness by discharging honorably serving military members and shunning unvaccinated new recruits?”

“Our world is only becoming more dangerous,” Eifert concluded. “I’m hopeful than an open-minded self-assessment leads to a solution that addresses this most serious threat to force readiness – before it’s too late.”

Army Guardsmen and Army Reservists had until June 30 to get fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

Since July 1, the unvaccinated members of both components have been forbidden from federally funded drills, trainings and other duties.

“Army data released last week shows 88% of the Army National Guard is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while another 1.6% has received one dose of the vaccine,” NGAUS added.

“While 9,795 Army Guardsmen have refused the vaccine, the service hasn’t separated anyone.”

Maj. Gen. James Eifert writes in The Wall Street Journal:

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Since March 2020, even before the vaccine, none of my military units have suffered any reductions in readiness as a direct result of the virus. The only loss in military readiness we’ve experienced has been the result of quarantine requirements, wholesale base lockdowns, travel restrictions and training cancellations.

Sound policy must be more beneficial than detrimental; the military’s Covid mandate decidedly isn’t. The benefits of vaccination are limited. Existing vaccines don’t prevent transmission of the dominant variants. And the virus has become less capable of rendering severe clinical outcomes, while effective treatments are now available for those who do get sick.

Even at its worst, Covid posed far less of a threat to young, healthy military cohorts than it did to other populations. There have been only 95 U.S. service-member deaths attributed to Covid from a total military population of 2.154 million. That’s a mortality rate of 0.004%—and a case-survival rate of 99.98%, based on the 421,807 infections the Pentagon has reported as of July 1. By contrast, the military’s suicide rate during 2020 was about seven times as great (0.027%). Any loss of life is regrettable—but shouldn’t our military be able to accomplish its missions while accepting a health risk this small?

I was a passionate proponent of vaccine mandates in the military when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first reported high efficacy rates and low chances of adverse side effects. I wanted my guardsmen safe, and I wanted them to return quickly to a normal training environment. But the circumstances have changed. The vaccines’ efficacy appears to be shorter-lived than once thought, and adverse side effects have been more widely reported. As our knowledge of risk changes, shouldn’t our policy change with it?

I’ve privately talked with many of my vaccine-averse airmen and soldiers to understand their perspective better. All of them displayed an impressive level of knowledge of the subject and substantiated their concerns. The lack of long-term studies, the proven risks of myocarditis and coagulation disorders, and the discounting of natural immunity conferred through prior infection have caused many of them to lose trust in the system.

As if this weren’t bad enough, on the horizon looms the review of religious-accommodation requests from thousands more service members. Senior leaders have a legal obligation to accommodate these requests when they pose no appreciable adverse effect on military readiness, health or safety of the force. Clearly, the vaccinated are no less likely to transmit or contract the virus—so there should be no appreciable effect on the force if the exemptions were approved. Leadership is also legally required to employ the “least restrictive means” to achieve its interests. In reviewing hundreds of cases, I’ve found that this means approving the exemptions and allowing the service members to return to the fold. While our exemption requests are still making their way through the chain of command, the Army and Air Force to this point have denied almost 99% of all religious accommodation requests. Once this process runs its course, will there be thousands more eliminated from our ranks, further impairing military readiness?



 

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