US

Army command is reviewing tweet of active-duty officer criticizing vaccine mandate

An Army officer’s career was hanging in the balance on Tuesday night after he tweeted criticism of the force’s COVID vaccine mandate and suggested his fellow military members resign in protest at the rule.

Lt. Col. James A. Attaway III, a professor of military studies at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, who had served in the Special Forces, joined the debate on mandates on Saturday.

The Pentagon brought in a vaccine mandate in August, and the Army reported a 96 percent vaccine completion rate for active duty soldiers and a 79 percent completion rate for reservists as of January 26.

On February 2, the Army announced that it would begin firing those who still refused to get vaccinated.

Attaway responded on Saturday to a tweet about the news, stating: ‘The vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting or transmitted [sic.] Covid, but we’re mandating that the most healthy population on the planet get vaccinated or be discharged? It’s time to resign …’

Lt. Col. James A. Attaway III, pictured with his children, on Saturday tweeted his disapproval of the COVID vaccine – and then deleted the post

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, to whose tweet Attaway replied, responded: ‘Thanks for your reply. I’m sure @CG_ArmyROTC [Maj. Gen. Johnny K. Davis, head of the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] received your feedback as well?’

Attaway has since deleted the tweet.

On Monday, a spokesman for the Army said that they were investigating Attaway’s tweet.

‘Cadet Command is aware of the tweet attributed to one of our professors of military science that disagreed with the Department of the Army’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and tagged the Sergeant Major of the Army,’ Lt. Col. Nichole Downs said on Monday.

‘The command is looking into it and will take appropriate action as required.’

Attaway joined the Army in 1998.

He has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and Kosovo and served with a number of units including the 101st Airborne Division and 7th Special Forces Group.

He has graduated from Ranger School, Air Assault School, and the Command and General Staff College.

Attaway's future in the military was hanging in the balance after his tweet about the COVID vaccine

Attaway’s future in the military was hanging in the balance after his tweet about the COVID vaccine

The Army has issued written ‘reprimands’ to 3,073 soldiers who have refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and will now begin discharging soldiers who still refuse to comply.

‘Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness,’ Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in a statement.

‘We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption.’

More than 3,000 soldiers could be discharged, according to the statement.

The army had 482,000 active duty personnel at the end of 2021.

As of January 26, six high-ranking officers — including two battalion commanders — had been removed from their posts for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

U.S. Army Major Sean Higgins, with the 254th Regional Training Institute, receives the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey

U.S. Army Major Sean Higgins, with the 254th Regional Training Institute, receives the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey

The US Navy announced in mid-October that personnel who declined vaccination against COVID-19 would be expelled from the force.

It has been particularly sensitive to the pandemic because of the risk that a single COVID case could infect an entire ship or submarine at sea, forcing it out of action.

In a press release on Wednesday, the navy said that about 8,000 active duty and reserve service members remained unvaccinated, and that to date, 118 people had been dismissed for refusing the vaccine.

The Marine Corps previously said it had discharged more than 300.

Around 97 percent of the approximately 1.4 million active-duty US military personnel have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Pentagon.


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