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You are here News Of Special Interest Pentagon must act to prevent extremist recruitment of unvaxxed service members

Pentagon must act to prevent extremist recruitment of unvaxxed service members

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Military vaccinationsAnger over COVID-19-related measures such as vaccines, masks and restrictions on travel, education and public gatherings looks certain to carry over into 2022 because of new variants, uneven vaccination rates and the continued politicization of public health. Meanwhile, tensions mount over Russia in Ukraine, China’s intentions towards Taiwan and Iran’s ramping up uranium enrichment while trying to drive the United States out of the Middle East.

COVID-19 threatens the U.S. military’s readiness, leading to the decision that military personnel should be vaccinated, show a religious exemption or face separation. The military has announced measures to enforce this rule to ensure readiness of the force, but it is not yet sure of all the second- and third-order effects of the decision. Therefore, the Biden administration should take several additional steps to ensure that separated military personnel do not become susceptible to extremist messaging and recruitment.

Over the past several days, the Defense Department has taken its first steps to separate scores of personnel across different services for refusing to comply with the department’s COVID vaccine mandate — either by being vaccinated or by demonstrating a genuine religious exemption. Given this policy, potentially thousands of other active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops may also face separation.


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