The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that the mandate has been dropped. Austin's memo comes in the wake of the passage of the huge defense spending bill last month, which included an amendment that gave him 30 days to rescind the mandate. But the memo also gives commanders some discretion in deciding how or whether to deploy unvaccinated troops.
Steve Crampton is senior counsel at Thomas More Society, which has filed several lawsuits aimed at protecting service members from the mandate. Crampton reports that while the memo doesn't "go far enough," the announcement is a great beginning.
"No more forced vaccinations – but there is still a confidence in the vaccination," the attorney points out. "So, while the existing purge [from the military] may be at least paused, they reserve the right to deploy and make other operational decisions based upon one's vaccinated or unvaccinated status."
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, has previously argued that the Biden administration's continued push for the mandate – and the Pentagon's slow-walking of thousands of religious accommodation requests – "has everything to do with [purging] the military of people of faith."
Crampton sees another glaring problem with Austin's memo: "It certain does not provide any mechanism for those who were discharged solely for objecting to the vaccine to come back into the service."
And that, he says, is why Thomas More Society is going to continue to move forward with lawsuits for their clients.