Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was asked on Tuesday about the fates of American service members who choose not to receive a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine, and his nonanswer response offered only a veiled threat that unvaccinated troops would be handled according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Asked if he was "against dishonorable discharges for the military for not taking a vaccine" in light of President Biden and his military leaders' decision to mandate Wuhan coronavirus vaccines, Austin was reminded "you're the leader of the DoD."
"I am the leader, and again, we have a UCMJ that really addresses all of the issues in the military and gives our leadership what they need to be able to enforce standards," said Austin, avoiding a direct yes or no answer. "Taking the vaccine is a requirement, and again, I'll just leave it at that."
Asked whether he supports dishonorable discharges for service members who choose not to get a vaccine, SecDef Austin refuses to give a straight answer. “We have a UCMJ,” Austin noted. pic.twitter.com/AtvnriuCW1— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) September 28, 2021
The question was posed by Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville during the day-long hearings in which President Biden's top military brass were testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the administration's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan that saw U.S. service members killed in action, ten innocent Afghan civilians — including seven children — killed in a botched drone strike authorized by Biden, and a still-unknown number of American citizens left behind.
Senator Tuberville, along with fellow Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced a measure earlier in September aimed at prohibiting the Department of Defense from doling out dishonorable discharges to those who choose to remain unvaccinated.
Representative Mark Green (R-TN), a combat veteran himself, introduced a similar measure that was approved by the House Armed Services Committee with unanimous support from his Democrat colleagues.
The Biden administration however, as Leah covered previously, said it “strongly opposes” such provisions for unvaccinated service members and that Green's proposal would "detract from readiness and limit a commander's options for enforcing good order and discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccination."