It’s not just the Air Force and Navy that are potentially facing major issues as troops continue to reject the vaccine despite a looming deadline. Apparently, the Marines, a relatively small branch with only about 180,000 personnel, face losing 12,500 Marines, or about 7% of the force, thanks to the vaccine mandate.
While that might be as large in terms of total personnel as some of the other branches, it is a much higher percentage than the Navy and Air Force face. For, as the Washington Examiner reports:
Active duty Navy sailors have a 99% vaccination rate when including those who have at least one dose, with active airmen close behind at 97%, Kirby said during the briefing. The Marine Corps is at 93% while the Army is bringing up the rear with 90%.
And, while the Marines outwardly state that they don’t think thousands of Marines will have to be discharged for not getting the vaccine, they might have reasons to worry internally. For, while they can state that other vaccines are required, there are unique worries about this one, fears that the USMC leadership apparently hasn’t sufficiently or satisfactorily answered.
And it doesn’t appear that military leadership is taking those fears seriously. As The Military Times reports, officers see the problem as largely one of “conspiracy theories,” with their view being that:
Fears about the vaccine have ranged from concerns about the speed of development or unease about mRNA, which is used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, to conspiracies that the vaccine comes with a tracking chip, will magnetize people or even make people glow in the dark.
However, when the data is examined, it appears more likely that those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines that refuse to get the jab are refusing it for religious reasons. For example, the Air Force announced on Wednesday that nearly 8,500 airmen had failed to meet its vaccination deadline.
But, of those, about 6800 are waiting on a religious exemption or already received one. So, while the woke military leadership might want to portray the issue as a conspiratorial one, the issue appears to be much more about the devout troops not wanting to take a vaccine that they feel violates their religious beliefs.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the brass will take the beliefs of the faithful into account. The Washington Examiner reports that:
The Navy, Army, and Marines confirmed to the Washington Examiner last week that they hadn’t granted any religious exemptions, while the Air Force has declined to release such information…
Additionally, The Military Times reports that “Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger is blaming online disinformation and conspiracy theories as the reason some Marines have refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The brass would prefer to continue seeing it as a conspiracy, so thousands of much-needed troops might be discharged for standing up for their religious beliefs. And time is running out. Again according to the Military Times:
Active-duty Marines have until Nov. 28 and reservists have until Dec. 28 to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
On Thursday the Corps announced that 88 percent of active-duty Marines were fully vaccinated, while 93 percent were partially or fully vaccinated.
The reserve numbers are significantly lower, with only 56 percent of Marine reservists reported to be fully vaccinated while 69 percent are fully or partially vaccinated, the Marine Corps said.
The Armed Forces, all of which are already facing significant strength shortfalls, only have a few weeks to back down and avert what might be a major disaster. It remains to be seen if they will, but right now it doesn’t look likely.