President Joe Biden has notched a few losses on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate front lately, and even waved the white flag on requiring U.S. troops to get the jab.
But Biden’s surrender on the Pentagon mandate apparently does not apply to the National Guard or Reserves.
The Daily Caller reported on Monday that it appeared the nearly $860 billion National Defense Authorization Act for 2023 ordered the Defense Department to rescind the August 2021 vaccination mandate for active-duty servicemembers as well as the Ready Reserve and National Guard.
Yet the U.S. Army updated its virus policy on Dec. 22 and declared that the NDAA provision did not address a second memo issued in November that applied the mandate to the National Guard and Reserves. That memo also precluded unvaxxed troops mobilized by state orders, rather than federal, from being paid, records obtained by the Daily Caller show.
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The Pentagon officially withdrew the virus vaccine mandate after Biden signed the NDAA into law on Dec. 23.
Yet the Army documents indicate Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s memo for the Guard remains in effect until superseded by a new order or rescinded by Austin.
His memo from 2021 “ordered National Guard troops to meet vaccination deadlines in order to participate in training, drills and other state duties” under federal law and “stripped funding for members who spurn the vaccine,” the Daily Caller reported.
“It also instructed Army and Air Force leaders to create similar policies applying to Reserve forces, an official policy document shows.”
A department spokesman told the Daily Caller, “all actions” in reference to the vaccines are suspended while the military adopts a new policy.
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Yet retired Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, chairman of a group called Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services and a vaccine-mandate opponent, told the outlet, “I feel fairly certain that most of America, and certainly most of the congressmen, I would think that supported that lifting of the mandate, thought it applied to the Guard. This is pretty egregious.”
The Daily Caller noted that the Pentagon’s latest report showed the National Guard has a 91% vaccination rate, while Army Reserves has a 92% vaccination rate.
Florida was set to ignore the Pentagon’s mandate anyway.
As The Free Press reported in September, Maj. General James Eifert, commander of the Florida National Guard, said as Hurricane Ian barreled toward the state, “The vaccine mandate does not impact our ability to bring people in on state active duty.”
“So, regardless of what DoD [the Defense Department] may end up doing with those people, which is still undetermined, we will be activating all of those people in support of the citizens of Florida.”