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Vaccine Holdouts in Army and Navy Will Be Dismissed, Military Says

Army commanders have relieved six active-duty leaders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 2,767 general officer written reprimands to soldiers for refusing the vaccination order, according to Army officials on Thursday.

Vice Adm. John B. Nowell Jr., the chief of naval personnel, said this week that the administrative separation processing for those who continue to refuse would be expedited to “maximize speed and equity in achieving a fully vaccinated force.”

Each service branch set its own deadlines for compliance with the mandate, which was issued last August. The Air Force, with more than 325,000 active-duty members, hit its deadline on Nov. 2. Pentagon officials said this week that 27 airmen — all with less than six years of service — were the first believed to have been fired over vaccine refusals. The deadlines for the Marines and the Navy were on Nov. 28. The Army’s was on Wednesday.

Every year, the Navy removes several hundred people for misconduct, said Travis Callaghan, a spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. “This is an administrative action we hoped to avoid but will impact a very small percentage of the active-duty force, and we are equipped to handle this scale of administrative processing,” he said.

Among the Marines, 94 percent are now fully vaccinated and 95 percent have had at least one shot. Marines who did not receive a second dose by Nov. 14 are considered unvaccinated and will be processed for administrative separation unless they are awaiting a decision on an exemption request, said Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesman.

The deadlines for National Guard troops are next year.

Five governors asked that their states — Alaska, Wyoming, Iowa, Mississippi and Nebraska — be given an exemption from the requirement. The Pentagon has yet to respond to their letter to Mr. Austin, which was dated Tuesday.

“Setting punishment requirements for refusing to be Covid-19 vaccinated and requiring separation from each state National Guard if unvaccinated are beyond your constitutional and statutory authority,” the governors said.

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