United States Military Training Ukrainian Soldiers in Germany, Pentagon Admits

United States Military Training Ukrainian Soldiers in Germany, Pentagon Admits

American armed forces have begun training Ukrainian soldiers to use advanced weapons systems in Germany, the Pentagon revealed on Friday.

In a Washington press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said that the United States had come to an agreement with Germany to begin training programmes for Ukrainian soldiers.

The Florida National Guard has been tasked with the “bulk” of the training, which will show a group of Ukrainian troops how to use advanced weapons such as howitzers, radar systems, and armoured vehicles.

“Today, I can announce that the United States has commenced training with the Ukrainian Armed Forces on key systems at U.S. military installations in Germany. Now, these efforts build on the initial artillery training that Ukraine’s forces already have received elsewhere, and also includes training on the radar systems and armoured vehicles that have been recently announced as part of security assistance packages,” Kirby said.

“This new training effort in Germany and at other locations in Europe is in direct support of recent U.S. security assistance packages that are designed to help Ukraine win their battles today and build strength for tomorrow. These new systems and the associated training… will strengthen Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia’s renewed offensive in Eastern Ukraine,” the Pentagon spokesman continued.

This week, President Joe Biden called on Congress to approve a further round of military aid to be sent to Ukraine, requesting another $33 billion on top of the $13.6 billion sent to the Eastern European nation in March.

“Basically, we’re out of money,” the President said.

Mr Biden previously drew controversy over remarks to U.S. soldiers in Poland suggesting that they would be entering the field of battle in Ukraine.

“You’re going to see, when you’re there, and some of you have been there, you’re going to see women, young people, standing in front of a damn tank,” Biden said during a March visit with the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in the Polish city of Rzeszow.

The 79-year-old Democrat later tried to say that he was merely talking about American troops training Ukrainians in Poland. However, the White House was forced to walk back this as well, as it would have been seen as a major escalation in what has become a proxy war between Western powers and the Russian Federation.

A White House spokesman later said that Ukrainian soldiers were merely “interacting” with American troops in Poland.

On Friday, the top Pentagon spokesman said that U.S. troops are currently training Ukrainian forces in “roughly three locations” but would only confirm the German site as he claimed he was “not at liberty” to disclose the other training locations.

The announcement from Kirby comes as German lawmakers approved a measure to send “heavy weapons and complex systems” to Ukraine, after previously showing reticence to send significant arms to the country, with many pointing to Germany’s heavy reliance on Russian energy for its hesitancy to appear involved in the war.

In 2020, former U.S. President Donald Trump had attempted to conduct a drawdown of American troops on the ground in Germany — a holdover from the Second World War and subsequent Cold War — over the country’s consistent failure to meet its NATO spending while sending billions to Moscow for Russian gas.

However, upon assuming control of the White House, President Joe Biden reversed the troop reduction, and instead actually decided to bolster America’s military footprint in Germany, sending an additional 7,000 soldiers to the leading European Union member-state in February.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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‘A Hero’: Greg Abbott Honors Missing Texas National Guardsman

‘A Hero’: Greg Abbott Honors Missing Texas National Guardsman

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) honored missing National Guard Specialist Bishop Evans on Sunday after he went missing, presumably from jumping into the Rio Grande to save migrants from drowning.

Sharing a photo of the serviceman, Greg Abbott hailed Evans a “hero” for risking his life in service to the Lone Star State and the United States of America.

“Texas National Guard Specialist Bishop Evans is a hero who risked his life in service to Texas & America. Law enforcement & rescue teams continue a relentless search for him. Join us in prayer for a successful recovery,” tweeted Abbott.

As Breitbart News reported, Evans was identified by authorities on Sunday after search and rescue teams had been tirelessly searching for his whereabouts since he went missing in the Rio Grande on Friday:

An extensive search was launched on Friday morning after Evans was reported missing. Search teams from the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Border Patrol, and other agencies converged along the river. The search continued through Saturday with negative results. Operations resumed early Sunday, with the addition of three airboats from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Highway Patrol, are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s disappearance. Initial information has led them to believe two of the migrants struggling in the current were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking, according to a statement issued by the Texas Military Department. Those migrants are currently being held at a Border Patrol detention facility in Eagle Pass.

Though not yet conclusive, Evans is believed to have drowned while rescuing migrants attempting to cross the sometimes deadly river. Thoughts and prayers poured out all over social media, with people honoring him as a hero.

Former presidential candidate and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D) said the incident highlights the danger of an open borders policy.

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California Army National Guard Commander on Ukraine: We Must Stand Ready

California Army National Guard Commander on Ukraine: We Must Stand Ready

The California Army National Guard commander on Sunday sent a memorandum to soldiers serving in the California Army National Guard — which is partnered with Ukrainian forces under the State Partnership Program — asking them to “stand ready.”

The subject of the memorandum, obtained by Breitbart News, and issued by Army Maj. Gen. Laura L. Yeager, was “Letter to the Field — Ukraine.”

“We cannot predict what our role may be at home or abroad, therefore we must stand ready. We ask each of you to self-assess and seize the initiative to improve your personal readiness,” Yeager wrote.

The memorandum said in full:

  1. As we watch the war unfold in our partner nation of Ukraine, our role as defenders of democracy is highlighted and increased in importance. Democracy can coexist with all peaceful nations but the actions of President Putin prove that oppressive states choose not to respect the sovereignty of democratic free countries.
  2. I am proud of our lasting partnership with Ukraine and their valiant fight to protect their freedom and their nation is inspiring. We are working diligently with our state and federal partners to help facilitate getting the Ukrainian military and citizens the equipment and humanitarian assistance they need to continue their defense.
  3. We cannot predict what our role may be at home or abroad, therefore we must stand ready. We ask each of you to self-assess and seize the initiative to improve your personal readiness. I encourage each of you to ensure you are continually working to increase your physical fitness, further your military education and train hard to be ready when needed. Speak to your friends and connect them with a local recruiter if they choose to serve to strengthen the readiness of our formations.
  4. Thank you for your service to California and the nation. Peace and freedom will endure with your continue commitment to service and excellence.

California Military Department Public Affairs Office Director Lt. Col. Brandon Hill confirmed the memo was authentic.

“I can confirm that is a memorandum sent by Maj Gen Yeager to the California Army National Guard component and personnel serving under her command. Her statement illustrates the importance of our motto or ‘Always Ready, Always There’ for National Guard service members. It also highlights our special relationship with the armed forces of Ukraine through the State Partnership Program in the 30 years we have partnered and trained with them,” he said in a statement.

He noted that the California Military Department recently published an e-newsletter on its partnership with Ukrainian forces.

The State Partnership Program pairs states’ National Guard forces with other nations’ military for training.

The program stems from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to pair up American reservists with former Soviet Bloc nations and is administered by the National Guard Bureau. California National Guard troops have been matched with Ukrainian forces since 1993.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky even visited Moffett Air Field in California last September.

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook. 

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D.C. braces for trucker’s The People’s Convoy expected this weekend

D.C. braces for trucker’s The People’s Convoy expected this weekend

D.C. braces for trucker’s The People’s Convoy expected this weekend — Pentagon deploys National Guard

The Secretary of Defense aproved 400 National Guard troops and 50 vehicles to support the District’s Metropolitan Police Department and another 300 troops to assist the Capitol Police.

By Natalia Mittelstadt

Inspired by the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” that protested Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions, several trucker convoys are heading across the U.S. to Washington, D.C., as local officials prepare for their arrival.

One of the largest convoys, “The People’s Convoy,” started in Adelanto, Calif., on Feb. 23, and is planning on arriving in the D.C. area on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the convoy was estimated to have grown to about 1,100 vehicles, according to WePatriot, which provides regular updates on the convoy through contacts with many of the organizers.

As of Tuesday, The People’s Convoy website reported over $1.5 million donated to the caravan. Non-financial donations are also being accepted.

In Fredericksburg, Va., a restaurant owner is collecting food donations for the convoy.

“We’ve been getting all kinds of items,” Gourmeltz restaurant owner Matt Strickland told WUSA 9, a local CBS affiliate. “Anything from protein bars to beef jerky to all kinds of nonperishable food items. It’s just volunteers from the community that have stepped up to collect these donations and take them to the truckers.”

On Monday, WePatriot reported that a local county sheriff’s department in Missouri was providing the convoy with a police escort, “with the lead sheriff’s car sporting an American flag out of the passenger window.”

On Tuesday a mile-long convoy was leaving Illinois and Wisconsin to join The People’s Convoy, according to the site.

Another convoy, called “American Freedom Convoy,” leaves from Tennessee following a rally on Thursday to head to the area of the nation’s capital. The “Convoy To Save America” will join with the American Freedom Convoy after leaving Tennessee on Friday to arrive on the Virginia side of the D.C. Beltway on Saturday.

From Washington State, the “American Truckers Freedom Convoy” began its journey to D.C. on Tuesday, with the plan to reach the nation’s capital by Sunday, reported WJLA, a local ABC affiliate.

There was an accident in Oklahoma between two semi-trucks and two pickup trucks from the convoy on Sunday evening, causing state troopers to close down the Will Rogers Turnpike for half an hour, reported KTUL, a local ABC affiliate.

There are several other convoys that are planning on joining the larger ones enroute to D.C.

A trucker leading a convoy from Scranton, Pa., which left last Wednesday, initially told Fox 5 DC they would “choke” the nation’s capital like a boa constrictor.

“We will be along the Beltway where the Beltway will be shut down,” Bob Bolus said on Feb. 20.

When asked about emergency responders and commuters to the city, Bolus replied, “There will be a lane open for emergency vehicles, they’ll be able to get in and out and all that,” he said. “We will not compromise anybody’s safety or health, one way or the other. As far as if they can’t get to work, geez that’s too bad.”

However, according to a Reuters reporter who followed the convoy on its first day, there were only eight participating vehicles.

“We’re not putting a chokehold on D.C. today,” Bolus told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “Not to say that it wouldn’t happen in the very near future. It’s just going to be an idea of what’s to come.”

Bolus’ idea to shut down traffic is in stark contrast to that of the organizer for The People’s Convoy, who told 7News that doing so would be illegal.

“No, that would be against the law,” Maureen Steele said. “And like we’ve announced from the beginning, we don’t have any intention of being unlawful.”

The convoys are not planning on going into the city itself, but the D.C. mayor and U.S. Capitol Police both received approval from the Defense Department for their requests for National Guard troops, according to WJLA.

“The Secretary of Defense has approved the provision of 400 District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) personnel and 50 vehicles to support the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia at designated traffic posts,” the Pentagon said in a statement last Wednesday.

“This support was requested by the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency for DoD. DCNG personnel will be prepared to assist Metropolitan Police officers at traffic posts as soon as operationally and logistically feasible through March 7, 2022.

“The Secretary of Defense also approved the provision of up to 300 National Guard personnel from neighboring states to support the United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers with traffic control operations at designated perimeter posts.”

The governors of both Maryland and Virginia spoke last Wednesday about preparing for the convoys and have said they are monitoring the situation.

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(TLB) published this article with permission of John Solomon at Just the News.  Click Here to read about the staff at Just the News

Some emphasis and pictorial content added by (TLB)

Header featured image (edited) credit: Convoy/supporters/Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Approves Up to 700 National Guard Troops for Trucker Convoy

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Approves Up to 700 National Guard Troops for Trucker Convoy

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has authorized an order to mobilize as many as 700 D.C. National Guard members ahead of an upcoming trucker convoy to the nation’s capital.

The National Guard said in a press statement that Austin approved requests from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) for D.C. National Guard assistance with traffic control during “First Amendment demonstrations expected in the city in the coming days.”

“The people who live, work and visit the District are part of our community, and their safety is our first mission priority,” said Maj. Gen. Sherrie L. McCandless, DCNG commanding general, in the statement.

“Our MPD and USCP partners have asked for our help in ensuring people can demonstrate peacefully and safely, and
we stand ready to assist,” she said.

Austin approved approximately 400 National Guard members to provide support to the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) at designated traffic posts, provide command and control, and cover sustainment requirements along with 50 large tactical vehicles to be placed at those designated traffic posts on a 24-hour basis starting no later than 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 26, or as “soon as logistically possible.”

The mission is approved through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 7, as Breitbart News previously exclusively reported.

Austin also approved a request from the USCP for assistance for up to 300 National Guard troops from outside D.C. to assist at designated traffic posts and select Capitol entry points starting no later than 7 a.m., on Saturday, February 26.

The statement said Guard members will not carry firearms or take part in law enforcement or domestic-surveillance activities.

The approval does not allow for the use of helicopters or other aircraft by the National Guard or the sharing of equipment with law enforcement agencies, it said.

The DCNG will provide command and control for both missions, although units from outside the District will remain under operational and administrative control of their respective governors.

Breitbart News is told that the states sending National Guard members include West Virginia, Vermont, and New Jersey.

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Exclusive: D.C. National Guard Members Told to Be Ready Ahead of Potential Truck Convoy

Exclusive: D.C. National Guard Members Told to Be Ready Ahead of Potential Truck Convoy

Washington, DC National Guard members have received a notice to be prepared to assist local law enforcement ahead of a potential trucker convoy headed to the nation’s capital, according to two sources.

The notice, obtained by Breitbart News, stated that the D.C. National Guard Land Component Command will be “encamped” beginning February 22 “for forthcoming ‘Trucker protest.’” One source explained that the term “encamp” is similar to “occupy an area.”

According to the notice, the National Guard will encamp through Monday, March 7. The notice stated that soldiers were already on standby to support the State of the Union address, which is scheduled for March 1.

A separate notice stated that the encampment could last longer than March 7, and would be in support of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The notices, sent Friday, indicated the mission has not yet been formally approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

A National Guard spokesman confirmed to Breitbart News on Saturday afternoon that there has been a request by MPD to assist, but it is still awaiting approval by Austin.

“We have a request from the D.C. Metro Police for support, and that support is contingent on approval from the secretary of defense, so we’re waiting on that. We’re waiting for approval from the secretary of defense,” said Army Maj. Aaron Thacker.

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) issued a press release on Friday that said the USCP is “closely coordinating” with entities that include the D.C. National Guard ahead of the potential truck convoy.

The press release said:

Law enforcement agencies across the National Capital Region are aware of plans for a series of truck convoys arriving in Washington, DC around the time of the State of the Union. As with any demonstration, the USCP will facilitate lawful First Amendment activity. The USCP is closely coordinating with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Park Police, the United States Secret Service and other allied agencies to include the DC National Guard.” – The United States Capitol Police

—–UPDATE—–

Here is additional information to address numerous inquiries we have received this evening:

“The United States Capitol Police and the United States Secret Service have been closely working together to plan for the upcoming State of the Union. The temporary inner-perimeter fence is part of those ongoing discussions and remains an option, however at this time no decision has been made.” – The United States Capitol Police

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook. 

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No, Veterans Are Not More Likely To Have Rioted In The U.S. Capitol

No, Veterans Are Not More Likely To Have Rioted In The U.S. Capitol
veterans

A year after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, a destructive narrative persists that members of the U.S. military and veterans were overrepresented among those arrested. Based on this falsehood, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered a service-wide stand-down  in order “to show progress in combating extremism.”

Of 2.4 million active-duty and actively serving reservists, about 100 were found to have taken part in “extremist activities” last year, according to Pentagon officials. But their label of extremist participation could have included “liking” a social media post of a group deemed extremist or a post that expressed “extremist” sentiments.

True, extremists in military ranks harm military readiness. They can corrode morale in organizations based on merit and trust — two essential battlefield assets. Further, they can present security risks if they act on their hateful and often paranoid beliefs — for instance, stealing military equipment for use in violent schemes. But that’s vanishingly rare in a force of millions. Entire bases go on lockdown when a single weapon goes missing.

My experience as an officer in the Army taught me to see talent, motivation, and drive in my troops. Anyone, for whatever reason, who sought to sow hatred among his fellow soldiers was a liability and would be removed for the benefit of the Army. I was confident that my fellow officers and sergeants would do the same.

Corporate Media’s Faulty Math

There is no place in America’s military for hateful extremists. That’s a given. But let’s review two of the claims in the popular press that seem to have forced Austin’s hand.

CNN reported on Jan. 31, 2021, that “Active military personnel and veterans are over-represented among the first 150 people to be arrested” with “Analysis by CNN of Pentagon records and court proceedings show 21 of the 150, or 14%, are current or former members of the U.S. military. That is more than double the proportion of servicemen and women and veterans in the adult U.S. population.”

NPR said much the same 10 days earlier, claiming that, “nearly 20%, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. To put that number in perspective, only about 7% of all American adults are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” The NPR article was headlined “Nearly 1 In 5 Defendants In Capitol Riot Cases Served In The Military.”

This encouraged retired four-star general Austin to tell Congress during his confirmation hearings that he would fight hard “to rid our ranks of racists,” noting that “The Defense Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”

Feeding into this, Austin’s spokesman, John Kirby, darkly implied a culture of white supremacy in the military when he warned, “There may be cultural issues we have to deal with here” at a press conference last February. CNN, NPR, and even Military.com reportage and others created a false narrative that saw Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, accusing the thousands of National Guard soldiers deployed to the U.S. Capitol in the wake of Jan. 6 as being “predominantly more conservative” than Americans — repulsively insinuating U.S. citizen-soldiers were a threat to President Biden’s inauguration.

Here’s Some Accurate Math

But these claims were based on faulty math in pursuit of a truthy narrative. As I wrote last March, the charge that the military was overrepresented at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot rested on three math errors: comparing military and veterans arrested to the general population rather than those 18 and older; comparing those arrested to the general adult population rather than adjusting for male and female arrestees (about 14 percent of male adults serve or are veterans vs. 1.7 percents of women); and failing to account for members of the reserve forces in their calculation of Americans with military experience.

After making those adjustments, I concluded last March that CNN’s claim about those arrested—“14%, are current or former members of the U.S. military” — made sense because “14% is what you would expect out of any random sample of men in America.” I called for a retraction. But CNN’s article is still up.

It’s also not just me. The Anti-Defamation League cited an April 2021 paper from researchers with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center that found “the 12% veteran participation rate among Capitol stormers was higher than the approximately 7% of Americans with some military experience. …When gender is taken into account and only male veterans are analyzed, the POE/CTC study concluded that male veterans make up about 14% of the general population but male Capitol stormers with veteran status made up only 13.6% of all male Capitol stormers. The authors suggest that ‘if anything…there actually is a very slight underrepresentation of veterans among the January 6 attackers’”(emphasis added).

But this report came out too late to stop the headlong rush for a stand-down that started last March.

The number of those arrested for participating in the Jan. 6 riot has now grown to 725, with another 350 being sought in connection with the violence. Of those, 81 have ties to the military, or 11 percent.

Again, this would appear to suggest that the military is overrepresented — remember, they are only 6.3 percent of the U.S. population (counting reservists, which CNN failed to do). But we don’t allow five-year-olds to join the Army, so, discounting those under 18 leaves 8.1 percent of adults as veterans or currently serving in some status.

Yet, only 90 of those arrested were women — men, in general, having a near-monopoly on violent knuckle-headedness. Looking at the breakdown of those arrested by sex and applying the percentage of those who are serving or veterans by sex suggests that there should be 93 veterans or currently serving members among the arrested, and there’s 81 — a 13 percent underrepresentation of the military vs. CNN’s libelous claim of “more than double” overrepresentation.

False Accusations Harm Our Military

I’m not pleased that any veterans saw fit to rush the U.S. Capitol in response to concerns that the 2020 election was marred by cheating. I share those concerns insofar as they relate to Marc Elias’ lawfare campaign to overturn or disregard the election code in multiple states to make it easier to engage in ballot trafficking via mail-in ballots. But the way to fight that is in the courts and state legislatures, not in an ill-conceived, poorly coordinated, and small riot.

The bottom line is that falsely accusing our military and veterans of being more likely, rather than less likely, to take part in what the left and much of the corporate media have called an attempted insurrection is bad enough. But then seeing our highest-ranking Defense Department officials act upon that scurrilous falsehood is even worse because it’s highly injurious to our warfighting capacity, our ability to recruit and retain high-quality military personnel, and grossly offensive to the millions of veterans who continue to honorably support and defend the Constitution.


Chuck DeVore is vice president of national initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a former California legislator, special assistant for foreign affairs in the Reagan-era Pentagon, and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army (retired) Reserve. He’s the author of two books, “The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America,” and “China Attacks,” a novel.

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Vaccine Mandates Sow Mass Chaos Throughout Military As Service Members Seek Religious Accommodations

Vaccine Mandates Sow Mass Chaos Throughout Military As Service Members Seek Religious Accommodations

Mixed messages from the higher-ups, unclear repercussions for refusal, a disparity in treatment among different states and branches of the military, a range of deadlines, and goalpost-shifting on the meaning of religious exemptions have converged to create mass chaos throughout the military as tens of thousands of yet-unvaccinated service members grapple with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and many seek exemptions.

The Pentagon has promised that these requests for accommodation, which are mostly religious but include some medical, will be considered on a “case-by-case” basis, but that assurance provides no clarity about the military’s subjective process for assessing the sincerity of religious belief. Nor does it grant hope to the many unvaccinated members of the Armed Forces whose personal convictions are presently being scrutinized and might be disregarded.

Vaccination Rates and Deadlines Vary

Deadlines are all over the place. The Air Guard and Reserve deadline is Dec. 2, with a Marine Corps and Navy deadline of Nov. 28 and a deadline for Army soldiers of Dec. 15. The date for Army National Guard and Reserve isn’t until June 30, 2022.

The deadline for members of the Air Force and Space Force already passed at the beginning of November, with the Air Force immediately discharging 40 entry-level service members and preparing to address the roughly 10,000 troops who still aren’t vaccinated. Most are awaiting the verdict on their requests for religious accommodation, while others are seeking “administrative accommodations” if they are about to retire. Some lone airmen or small groups of them spread around the globe reportedly don’t have nearby commanders giving them clear orders about getting the vaccine.

Vaccination rates among the branches are a bit of a toss-up too. At the beginning of November, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that 93 percent of the Marine Corps and 97 percent of the Air Force had received the vaccine, with the Army being “in the 90th percentile.”

As of last week, 96 percent of the Navy’s active-duty sailors were reportedly fully vaccinated, with 99.5 percent having received at least one dose, but the Navy has granted only six permanent medical exemptions among the remaining almost 2,000 members so far and zero religious accommodations.

What About Religious Exemptions?

Things aren’t looking good for those seeking religious accommodations, especially sailors. A Navy representative told Military.com that no religious exemptions have been granted in that branch in at least seven years. And according to an administrative announcement on Monday, sailors who are denied an exemption will have only five days to get their first dose or else be discharged.

The circumstances surrounding discharge for vaccine refusal has also been muddy, with service members receiving mixed messages. For instance, while the Navy has said that the lowest discharge rating a sailor can receive for refusing a vaccine is “general (under honorable conditions)” absent any other factors, the Biden administration has supported the idea of dishonorable discharge.

Back in September, the Biden White House said it “strongly opposes” a 2022 defense spending bill provision that would prevent the Defense Department from dishonorably discharging service members who won’t get the coronavirus shot.

“To enable a uniformed force to fight with discipline, commanders must have the ability to give orders and take appropriate disciplinary measures,” the White House said in a statement.

SEALs Are Taking It to Court

On behalf of dozens of Navy SEALs and other Special Warfare Command service members, First Liberty is going after the Biden administration and Defense Department for their refusal to grant religious exemptions. This follows reports last month of SEALs facing harassment and intimidation over seeking religious accommodations, including warnings that the Navy might seek to recover from each service member the costs of their training, which could be more than $1 million per SEAL.

The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, details how the plaintiffs were treated when they sought exemptions. Several were told that any religious accommodation would prevent them from being deployed. Others received a formal warning, which said that special operations personnel who rejected the vaccine on religious grounds would be disqualified from special ops duty absent a special waiver, which would also affect their deployment and would mean losing their “special warfare” pay.

Many of the plaintiffs had already received official denials of their requests, while others had been warned they won’t be accepted. According to the complaint, none of the plaintiffs are aware of any “similarly situated” members of the military who have received exemptions.

“The fact that the government has not granted a single religious exemption from the vaccine mandate shows that the Biden administration does not care about religious freedom. Instead, this appears to be an attempted ideological purge of our military,” First Liberty General Counsel Mike Berry, whose clients have more than 350 collective years of military service and more than 100 combat deployments, told The Federalist. “These elite warriors should be fighting for our country. Instead, they’re fighting for their careers and their freedom.”

Everything Is Up in the Air

Meanwhile, The Federalist has been in contact with a handful of chaplains across the country in different branches who are not authorized to speak on the record but have reported disparate experiences. As exemption requests have flooded in, some have been pleased with their commanders’ handling and have remained very involved in their advisory roles to service members. At least one chaplain reported being removed from his typical duties of evaluating others’ religious objections while he seeks an exemption for himself.

“Each case is going to be treated specifically and individually as it ought to be,” Kirby said on Nov. 1. “So can we promise you that there will be absolute uniformity across the board? No. And we wouldn’t want to promise that because it wouldn’t be the same way we handle the orders violations for other offenses as well.”

The Pentagon said it couldn’t promise uniformity — and so far, the military has gone above and beyond to deliver on that.

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