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U.S. Army Assigns Soldiers Who Refused Anthrax Vaccine to Iraq

Global Security Newswire

Despite a U.S. Defense Department policy requiring anthrax vaccinations for all service members assigned to combat areas, at least four soldiers who refused the vaccine have been sent to Iraq, the Hartford Courant reported Tuesday (see GSN, Jan. 9).

Three of the four soldiers were charged in the last two months with disobeying a direct order to receive the vaccine, but the Army chose to deploy them in Iraq instead of prosecuting them, according to the Courant. The fourth soldier was charged over a year ago before he was sent to Iraq.

Critics of the Pentagon’s anthrax vaccination policy have said the deployments demonstrate the lack of an anthrax threat, the Courant reported.

“This is the first hint that a few courageous operational commanders are beginning to exercise judgment, and are acknowledging what Pentagon leaders will not — that the anthrax threat was simply political hype that is no longer worth losing good soldiers over,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Richardson, who has participated in a campaign to end the mandatory inoculations (Thomas Williams, Hartford Courant, Feb. 17).