The Pentagon is mandating COVID vaccinations for service members, a decision that retired Delta Forces operative Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin is calling a “big mistake.”
A Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, Boykin has led clandestine combat operations across the globe and knows better than most the art of troop welfare. The former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence said that mandating the COVID vaccine will be detrimental to morale.
Boykin joined John Wesley Reid, editor-in-chief of the Standing for Freedom Center, with his commentary:
“First of all, I think this is a big mistake. I think that the secretary of defense and the president, as the commander-in-chief, are not thinking their way through this. I believe this is going to impact our military in a negative way — in that to dictate to them that they must take something that is as controversial as this vaccination is, I think, is going to be one more step towards completely destroying the morale of our military.”
Some have argued that it shouldn’t be a “big deal” for the military to require the COVID vaccination, considering that for decades the military has required more vaccines for service members than most American civilians receive. However, while vaccinations are necessary due to international military operations, service members know in advance what vaccinations they’ll be receiving before joining and what pre-deployment vaccines they may have to get after joining and the research and longevity of observation for those vaccines far outweigh that of the novel COVID vaccine.
Boykin, who is fully vaccinated due to being high-risk, said that the decision should be left up to the personal choice of each service member.
“Look, I am fully vaccinated. I’ve had both shots — but this is a different issue. This is an issue on whether you can mandate to an American, especially one who has raised [their] right hand and sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic … Look I took it because I’m high risk either way. I’m 73 years old so I took the vaccination and I see no reason not to — but what I do see is everyone should have the right to choose.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, is requiring all military branches to implement a plan to vaccinate all service members, upon FDA approval expected in September. Austin has said that if the FDA does not approve the vaccine by the expected September time, he will seek a presidential waiver to require military-wide vaccinations — a waiver President Biden has already indicated he will grant.
Military legal experts are still waiting on details of the requirement — which at this point are vague — to determine what will happen to service members who oppose the vaccination. Options could include anything from bad-conduct discharges, loss of pay and allowances, adverse service marks, and possibly even confinement to a military prison.
Legal pushback is expected, and given the history of rushed vaccines such as the Anthrax vaccine in the early 2000s, there is an argument to be made for refusing. Religious exemptions are generally a potential case for refusal, though it is unclear as to what the components to such an exception would look like with the COVID-19 vaccine. If a service member’s religious convictions prohibited them from being vaccinated at all, they wouldn’t have made it in the military, so the possibility that religious exemptions would work in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine is very unlikely.
The straight-shooter general then pivoted towards “wokeness” as an adverse impact to combat readiness.
“If they really were concerned about combat readiness, they would stop all the social experiments. They would stop trying to make a woke military out of the young men and women serving today. They would stop with the Critical Race Theory, they would stop with the nonsense of social experiments that takes up training time that should be used by these young men and women to get ready to defend this nation and defeat our enemies.”
Military readiness is not isolated to gear placement, guns ready-for-issue, and efficient training. All of that would be null, or perhaps dangerously counterproductive, without camaraderie. But camaraderie cannot be had when leaders are forcing their troops to inject themselves with a vaccine that they are reasonably hesitant in taking — especially considering the obvious political optics here. As Gen. Boykin pointed out, military leaders should be applying their proven courage in a new way: standing up to politicians.
As far as race goes, there is certainly an argument to be made about holding reconciliation classes focused on various disparities among the ranks. However, the experiences of both Boykin and Reid, a U.S. Marine veteran, both recall a promising unity among the troops, a melting pot of racial and ethnic backgrounds that serve one purpose of mission accomplishment — and they accomplish this mission well.
Racial reconciliation training is not needed to heal any racial disparities in the U.S. military. Circumstantial acts of racism are so few and far between that they should be dealt with by disciplinary actions within individual units, not mass classes. Also, given the fact that racism is about the heart, no required class setting or PowerPoint presentation is going to make a dent in the evil reasoning of a racist.
In summary: Don’t force people to be vaccinated (why is this even questionable?) and don’t try to fix what isn’t broken in the military. The military has a strong racial harmony. The application of Marxist-based narratives and politically-charged training could potentially disrupt that.