More than 100 Marines kicked out of the service for refusing Covid vaccine


The Army would not identify the two officers.

The moves come as the individual services begin the process of separating what could amount to thousands of troops who refuse the order to be vaccinated, a complicated undertaking that impacts everyone from newly enlisted service members to high-ranking officers in command of hundreds of personnel.

The vast majorities of each service have received their shots. The Army and Navy are each at about 98 percent, while the Air Force stands at 97.5 percent and the Marine Corps at 95 percent.

Approximately 72 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated.

The Army announced Thursday that in January it will begin the work of separating soldiers who have refused the order and have already relieved six active-duty leaders, including the two battalion commanders, and issued 2,767 reprimands to soldiers for refusing the vaccination.

Those reprimands generally allow a soldier to continue to serve, but are seen as a block to any future promotion, effectively killing a career.

The six leaders already removed from their jobs range in rank from sergeant to lieutenant colonel, an Army spokesperson told POLITICO, without offering more detail.

A total of 3,864 soldiers have refused the shot, less than 1 percent of the active force.

The Army is the largest service branch, with 478,000 soldiers in its active-duty ranks. In total, 6,200 soldiers have sought temporary or permanent exemptions, including 641 medical requests and 1,746 religious requests. Like the other services, no religious exemptions have been approved by the services.

“Vaccinating our soldiers against COVID-19 is first and foremost about Army readiness,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement. “To those who continue to refuse the vaccine and are not pending a final decision on a medical or administrative exemption, I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine. If not, we will begin involuntary separation proceedings.”

The Marine Corps has approved 1,007 exemptions from the mandate, with 3,144 requests for religious accommodation still in the works. The Marines who are being separated are receiving discharges that are general under honorable conditions, a Marine Corps spokesperson said. Such a discharge keeps the Marines from losing post-military benefits.

On Wednesday, the Navy issued guidance to its leadership to start the process of separating the 5,731 active-duty sailors who remain unvaccinated. And early this week, the Air Force announced it was kicking out 27 airmen.