November 03, 2021
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced today that Secretary Austin has failed to respond to his October 18 letter and answer specific questions about the readiness impacts of the Biden administration’s mandate.
“The inability of the Department of Defense to answer basic questions about the implementation of their vaccine mandate is alarming. More than two weeks ago, I asked Secretary Austin for simple answers: the cost of enforcing the mandate, its effect on readiness, its impact to our defense industrial base and more. This is information I would have expected the Department to have readily at hand so that the Secretary of Defense could make an informed decision before directing a department-wide mandate. As of this morning, I still have not received a response, yet the Department is rushing ahead with the mandate.
“These answers are necessary for Congress to do appropriate oversight. The fact the Department can’t immediately provide this information also highlights the uncertainty the mandate is causing across the force. Confusing deadlines, unclear guidance, and – perhaps most shocking of all – that somehow not a single religious exemption granted in the entire Air Force to date shows that we need more time to understand what discharging thousands of service members will do to our military readiness and recruitment. Once again, I call on Secretary Austin to suspend the mandate.
“We are searching for an alternative to how we can correct this disaster our military and states are facing. At this point I must assume that we have a Secretary of Defense who is unwilling to respond to my inquiry in accordance with his stated duties.”
Yesterday, Governor Kevin Stitt wrote a letter to Secretary Austin highlighting the impact of the vaccine mandate on the readiness of the Oklahoma National Guard.
“Governor Stitt’s letter is a key reminder that the impacts of the mandate reach beyond active-duty service members to include not only the National Guard, but also the Reserves and the defense industrial base. They are essential to our readiness too, and it is clear from the data we see in Oklahoma that the mandate’s effect will be severe. We cannot afford to jeopardize our national security—and rushing the vaccine mandate without answering basic readiness questions puts American families at risk.”