Katherine L. Kuzminski, a military policy expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, said disciplinary problems can arise when rank-and-file troops see the erosion of rules set clearly and forcefully by senior leaders.
“It opens the door for more pushback in the future,” she said. “The military fundamentally functions on the enforcement of the chain of command.”
Austin enacted the mandate in August 2021 as part of a broader effort by the administration to boost vaccination rates and curb the toll of the deadly virus. Since the pandemic began, 96 U.S. troops, 417 civilian Defense Department employees, 36 military family members and 141 defense contractors working for the department have died, according to Pentagon data.
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