Top general blames jab mandate for US recruitment woes
The highest-ranking general in the US Marine Corps has argued that “misbeliefs” about Covid-19 vaccines are contributing to the military’s manpower shortfalls, because many would-be recruits are balking at being forced to take the jabs.
“You talk to me in the cafeteria, and one of my first questions is, ‘Do I have to get that vaccine?’ And you go, ‘Yeah, you do.’ ‘Ok, I’ll talk to you later.’ It’s that fast,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Berger. He added that the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate is a “big factor” in deterring enlistment of new troops in southern states, where there are “still myths and misbeliefs” about the inoculations.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday in Simi Valley, California, Berger said many opinions were formed during the politicized rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines. “People make decisions, and they still have those same beliefs. That’s hard to work your way past, really hard to work.”
All branches of the US military are struggling to meet their recruiting quotas. For instance, the US Army missed its fiscal year 2022 recruiting target by about 25%, or 15,000 soldiers, even as it boosted enlistment bonuses to as much as $50,000. The Army has gone so far as to eliminate weight limits for re-enlisting troops if they can pass physical fitness tests. More than three in four young Americans are ineligible to join the military because of disqualifying factors, especially obesity, according to a Pentagon study.
US Representative Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Pentagon is on the verge of discharging nearly 20,000 troops because they have refused Covid-19 vaccinations.
“This military mandate has got to stop,” Waltz told Fox News on Monday. “The vaccine does not stop the spread. The Pentagon is standing on an order as an order, but you know what, sometimes you need to re-evaluate your orders. We are in a recruiting crisis that is going to take us years to get out of.”
Waltz added that unless President Joe Biden’s administration relents on the jab mandate, Republicans will torpedo the rule when they take control of the House in January. “They can do it the easy way, or we’re going to do it the hard way, but the calvary is coming for those who have been kicked out unfairly.”