The Pentagon is digging in its heels on requiring that troops be vaccinated against the coronavirus even as GOP lawmakers threaten to hold up the National Defense Authorization Act unless the Defense Department ends its COVID-19 mandate.
On Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the controversial policy is needed to protect the nation’s security.
“As a warfighting organization, the health and readiness of our force is paramount. Vaccination for COVID is still a requirement,” Gen. Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon, refusing to comment on any possible legislation to force an end to the mandate.
“We’re going to ensure that our forces are properly vaccinated to be able to carry out their wartime mission,” Gen. Ryder added.
Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, called the Pentagon’s COVID mandate, “an insane policy.”
“The vaccine does not prevent infection (and) does not prevent transmission. So why would we make anybody take it?” he recently said on Capitol Hill.
About 8,000 military personnel have been forced out over the Pentagon’s COVID mandate with about 17,000 additional troops awaiting a decision by the Defense Department over their requests for religious exemptions, Mr. Johnson said.
“These are self-inflicted wounds whether we’re talking about the military (or) within our health system,” he said, adding that the Senate should vote on ending the Pentagon’s COVID-19 mandate before it moves on to the NDAA.
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