US army Photograph:( AFP )
Another 3,073 soldiers have also been reprimanded for refusing to get vaccinated
The US Army said Wednesday that soldiers who failed to comply with COVID-19 vaccination rules would be discharged. It claimed the move was essential to maintaining combat readiness.
"Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness," Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in a statement.
"We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption."
The army said that the order applies to regular army soldiers as well as active-duty army reservists and cadets unless they have exemptions, either approved or pending.
It is the latest move from a US military branch to discharge unvaccinated members amid the pandemic. The Pentagon mandated vaccinations for all service members in August 2021.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 soldiers can be discharged. As of the end of 2021, the army had 482,000 active-duty personnel.
The military has already removed six high ranking officers, including two battalion commanders, for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as of January 26.
Another 3,073 soldiers have also been reprimanded for refusing to get vaccinated.
In mid-October, the US Navy also announced that personnel who declined vaccination against COVID-19 would be expelled from the service.
Approximately 40 members have already been discharged and more than 300 members have been discharged from the Marine Corps, which is also under the authority of the Navy.
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Owing to the risk that one single case of Covid could infect an entire ship or submarine at sea, forcing them out of action, the navy has been particularly sensitive to the pandemic.
Pentagon statistics indicate that approximately 97 per cent of the 1.4 million active-duty US military personnel received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.