The Pentagon said Thursday evening it will order members of the military to comply with President Joe Biden's requirement that all federal employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus or face a regime of regular testing, social distancing, mask wearing, and travel restrictions.
"Although those steps fall short of a mandate," The New York Times reports, "Mr. Biden also ordered the Defense Department to move rapidly toward one for all members of the military, a step that would affect almost 1.5 million troops, many of whom have resisted taking a shot that is highly effective against a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans."
It was not clear how far the requirement for Pentagon employees would reach.
While estimates vary, the Pentagon noted on its website around 2016 it employs "over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel," along with 1.1 million who serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces.
The news comes as The Washington Post published a disturbing leaked CDC report on the delta variant that, coincidentally in military terms, "argues officials must 'acknowledge the war has changed.'"
It reveals the delta variant is "so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold."
It also refers to unpublished data that finds "vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant."
Given the new information about the delta variant mandating the vaccine would appear to be a matter of national security.