By Dr. Harold A. Black
To some of us looking on from the outside it seems that Defense Secretary Austin and the Joint Chiefs’ Milley are intent on degrading our military. Here is an incomplete list: the reversal of Trump’s transgender policy, the removal of sexual assault cases from the chain of command, the instituting of Critical Race Theory, the hiring of a Pentagon chief of diversity and inclusion, the purging of “extremists”. One retired general said that the Biden Administration is intent on changing the military into “woke social justice warriors” ignoring the words of former defense secretary Mattis who said that “there should be only one measurable standard for our defense policies and priorities: Does the action make us more or less lethal.” In this administration’s case, the answer is “no”.
Austin and Milley’s mandating of COVID vaccines for the military adds to the list. Why the mandate? As of this writing, there were a grand total of 27 military deaths attributed to COVID. That is a death to infection rate of 0.0001 percent. Note that the military does not report if these were deaths from COVID or with COVID. Nonetheless, COVID does not pose a serious threat to our military. It is clear is that the mandate has not scientific justification and is politically motivated rather than health related. Military personnel are in the main not among the COVID at-risk group. Although the “let’s keep them scared” crowd is fearmongering the recent rise in infections, there is little evidence that the death rate is increasing among those infected. Indeed, some statistics show falling death rates and less severe illnesses attributed to the Delta variant. I doubt that the mandating of vaccines will add to military readiness. Rather, it could adversely affect morale. The miniscule death rate does not even compare with that of suicides. There were 541 military suicides and 6,425 veteran suicides in 2018. One wonders if the suicide rate will increase due to the COVID mandate.
A House Republican introduced a bill with 24 sponsors to prohibit the military from forcing vaccines on the troops. Of course, it has no chance of passage. The bill was proposed because the Representative claimed that he had been contacted by military personnel saying that they would quit if the vaccine were mandated. It will be interesting to see if the mandate will provoke a mutiny in the ranks and an increase in court martials. There will likely be a constitutional challenge as well.
I guess one could chalk up the mandate to the long list of stupid orders given by commanders to the ranks who are expected to follow them without challenge. Commands such as Pickett’s (Longstreet’s) charge at Gettysburg come to mind as are a myriad of lesser ones. My brother was a B-52 pilot flying missions over Viet Nam and talked about all the stupid orders they received during that conflict. Most were obeyed but some were not because they would be dangerous and yield little if no benefit. Ask any soldier or any veteran. They would give you a long list of stupid orders from their superior officers.
COVID mandates will just be added to the stupid list.