[Check out Frontpage’s series: Disloyal Military: HERE.]
The consequence of the Department of Defense COVID vaccine mandate? A self-inflicted national security threat to readiness, recruitment, retention and ultimately to the all-volunteer force. Secretary of Defense Loyd Austin made a foolish decision to throw away battle tested, combat proven service members with years of priceless war fighting experience and leadership who were an incredible asset to the fighting force. This deliberate decision has caused irreversible damage to the military and the force’s ability to accomplish the mission.
Austin should resign for his failures to maintain necessary force end strength, the worst recruitment crisis since the Vietnam war, for playing politics with soldiers’ careers over the COVID vaccine mandate, and the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. His failure to intervene early in order to tackle these issues prior to becoming full-fledged crises has significantly degraded the military’s capabilities, readiness and national security.
But Austin’s failures started long before COVID.
During the Obama administration, Secretary Austin was the CENTCOM commander, in charge of the fight against ISIS in Iraq when the nation quickly fell to the terrorist group. He was tactically and operationally in charge of the area where ISIS captured hundreds of U.S. military tanks, vehicles and other equipment and paraded them around for the world to see. In 2015, Austin testified to congress that a $500 million U.S. military program had only trained “4 or 5” Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. And for those who served under his leadership in CENTCOMs area of operation, his reputation for indecisiveness was an open secret.
Not only that, Secretary Austin was the top Pentagon official in charge of the 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal that was not only an epic failure that exposed many of our weaknesses to our adversaries, but got 13 service members killed. Additionally, in a rushed and retaliatory drone strike, 10 innocent civilians were killed, many of whom were children. For some time the Pentagon maintained the strike was “righteous.” To this day no one has been held accountable for this failure of epic proportions.
In August 2021, Austin announced the COVID vaccine mandate for the military “to preserve readiness” of the force. To the contrary, the COVID vaccine mandate has done more to damage the readiness of the force than service members contracting COVID has. Thousands of very capable active duty service members, many with combat experience, were forced out. With little notice, they had to leave behind medical benefits, education benefits, pensions and careers they had worked for years to establish.
Today, about 40,000 National Guard members are not vaccinated. About 22,000 Reserve members are not vaccinated. That is over 60,000 troops who the federal government counts on for national emergencies, national disasters like fires and hurricane response, as well as to backfill the active duty force during a time of war – all who will likely be kicked out of the service due to Austin’s vaccine mandate. Many have already lost pay and benefits and priceless federal military training required for readiness. Losing that many service members is a catastrophic blow to the military and its capabilities. In turn, the vaccine mandate has contributed to the recruitment crisis we are witnessing today. The mandate, in conjunction with woke policies and post 9/11 strategic and operational failures are why young Americans who are eligible to serve are saying “no thank you.”
On Tuesday, Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL) along with 49 other representatives, sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting its leadership reconsider the COVID vaccine mandate that is having such a disastrous consequence on our fighting force.
“As a matter of national security, the capabilities and readiness of the fighting force, and respect for the personal rights of our men and women in uniform, we ask that you reconsider the Department’s COVID vaccine mandate…”
This is a step to mitigate one of the issues, but it is merely treating one of the symptoms of the Austin problem. Secretary of Defense Loyd Austin could end this today. But he hasn’t — and based on this track record, he won’t. It’s time for Congress to come to this realization and demand Austin’s resignation.
With over two years left in the Biden administration, there is still plenty of damage to be done. Our military institution is still salvageable, but not with Secretary Austin in the lead. A single resignation isn’t a magical fix, but it will allow someone else to tackle many of the issues Austin proved he could not.
Amber Smith is a former Pentagon official and U.S. Army Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. She is the author of ‘Danger Close’.
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