Pentagon spells out penalties for National Guard members who refuse vaccination
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has revealed the penalties that National Guard members might face if they refuse vaccination against Covid-19, giving soldiers an ultimatum that could affect their pay.
In a Tuesday memo, Austin restated his claim that vaccination is “essential to the health and readiness of the Force,” and ordered the establishment of “policies and implementation guidance to address the failure to maintain this military medical readiness requirement by members of the non-federalized National Guard who remain unvaccinated.”
The penalties Austin outlined included a ban on participation in training and drills for unvaccinated state National Guard members and a withdrawal of federal funding for “payment of duties” to those who refuse the vaccine.
Additionally, Austin stated that “no credit or excused absence shall be afforded to members who do not participate [in] drills, training, or other duty due to failure to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The Pentagon has been engaged in a standoff with the Oklahoma state National Guard since Governor Kevin Stitt requested in November that his state’s Guard be exempt from vaccine requirements. The request was rejected this week.
The Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Thomas Mancino, told his soldiers earlier this month that “no negative administrative or legal action” would be taken if they refused vaccination. However, the Pentagon has repeatedly warned that refusal could “jeopardize the member’s status in the National Guard,” even if they serve under state control instead of federal.