VEXED BY VACCINE RESISTERS: With an Army deadline just days away, there are still tens of thousands of military personnel who have failed to get mandatory vaccinations for COVID 19, and the Pentagon is wrestling with how to convince resisters in the ranks to get with the program.

The Pentagon says that 96% of active-duty personnel have had at least one shot, and 90% are fully vaccinated. When you count the National Guard and Reserves, who have later deadlines, the percentage of fully vaccinated drops to 74%. A review by the Washington Post put the total number of unvaccinated troops at between 40,000 and 50,000.

“We know there's more work to do, and there's some deadlines that haven't passed yet,” said spokesman John Kirby at Friday’s Pentagon briefing. “But the secretary's expectation is, because this is a mandatory military readiness requirement, that everybody's going to get it with the exception of those, of course, who are properly exempted from it.”

Deadlines have already passed for Air Force and Navy uniformed personnel, with the Navy reporting 5,731 active-duty sailors unvaccinated, and the Air Force and Space Force are reporting that 3,234 active-duty forces haven’t gotten their shot.

Only a small percentage of waivers have been granted. For instance, the Navy has granted only seven permanent medical exemptions, 326 temporary exemptions, 124 administrative exemptions, and no religious accommodations.


REFUSENIKS TO BE BOOTED: The last thing the services want to do is to start purging the ranks of troops, but officials say they will have little choice in the case of vaccine resisters who are refusing to follow a lawful order, which is a bedrock of good order and discipline.

“Commanders will take appropriate administrative and disciplinary actions consistent with federal law and Department of the Air Force,” wrote Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in a Dec. 7 memo. “Refusal to comply with the vaccination mandate without an exemption will result in the member being subject to initiation of administrative discharge proceedings.”

The Pentagon is hoping that counseling and the threat of separation will prompt most remaining hold-outs to fall in line. “It remains the secretary's expectation that the mandatory vaccine will be implemented in a compassionate and thoughtful way,” said Kirby. “His expectation is not that the result would immediately go to some sort of punitive or administrative action.”

“Any service would be responsible for determining how long counseling and education would go before some sort of action would have to be taken,” he said.

Some troops who are declining to be vaccinated may be planning to retire or leave voluntarily.


WHAT ABOUT BOOSTERS? With waning immunity from vaccinations given in the spring and the rise of delta and omicron variants of the coronavirus, the Pentagon is considering whether to require booster shots for the force.

“There are active discussions here at the department about the efficacy of a mandatory booster requirement. We aren't at that point now,” Kirby said. “We obviously encourage those who can — and who are by CDC guidelines are recommended to get the booster — get the booster ... but right now, there's no requirement for it.”

“I think if you are looking at the data, the more and more it becomes clear that if you want to be optimally protected, you really should get a booster,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, on ABC. “The third shot of an mRNA raises the level of protection high enough that it does then do well against the Omicron, which is again another reason to encourage people who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated, but particularly those who are vaccinated to get boosted.”


Good Monday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes Lithuanian Minister of Defense Arvydas Anusauskas to the Pentagon at 1 p.m.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol votes at 7 p.m. on a report recommending the House cite Mark Randall Meadows for criminal contempt of Congress.

The charges come as Meadows, President Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, abruptly withdrew his cooperation with the committee after previously handing over thousands of emails and texts.

The nine-member panel, including two Republicans, released a 51-page report last night detailing questions raised by 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages.

“Meadows is uniquely situated to provide critical information about the events of January 6, 2021, as well as efforts taken by public officials and private individuals to spread the message of widespread fraud in the November 2020 election and to delay or prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” the report says. “Mr. Meadows has refused to provide the Select Committee with information and testimony that has no conceivable, associated privilege claims.”

Livestream at

END OF KOREAN WAR DECLARATION: South Korean President Moon Jae-in says the United States, China, and North Korea have agreed in principle on a declaration that would end the Korean War 68 years after the fighting stopped.

Moon made the announcement in Australia at a joint news conference after meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra.

The Korean War raged from 1950 to 1953 and ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The end-of-war declaration is a largely symbolic move aimed at reviving denuclearization talks between the U.S. and the two Koreas, which have been stalled since Trump rejected terms proposed by North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at a 2019 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

GAMING OUT PUTIN’S GAMBIT: The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War is out with a two-part analysis “Putin's Likely Course of Action in Ukraine,” that tries to get in the mind of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his motivation for massing some 100,000 troops, tanks, and artillery on the border of Ukraine.

Part one posits that Putin may have no intention of invading Ukraine at all, while part two looks at his military options should he order an invasion.

“The United States, NATO, and Ukraine must seriously consider the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and prepare military, diplomatic, and economic measures to deter and respond to that threat,” the analysis concludes while suggesting “Putin may be attempting a strategic misdirection that impales the West in a diplomatic process and military planning cycle that will keep it unprepared to meet his preferred, wily, and more subtle next move.”

“Putin is rarely so obvious, however, and a massive Russian invasion of Ukraine would mark a fundamental transformation of the approach he has taken for two decades to advance his interests and respond to threats,” the analysis suggests. “Putin is much more likely to send Russian forces into Belarus and possibly overtly into Russian-occupied Donbas. He might launch a limited incursion into unoccupied southeastern Ukraine that falls short of a full-scale invasion. “

The case against an invasion is summarized this way: “A full-scale Russian invasion of unoccupied Ukraine would be by far the largest, boldest, and riskiest military operation Moscow has launched since the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. It would be far more complex than the US wars against Iraq in 1991 or 2003. It would be a marked departure from the approaches Putin has relied on since 2015, and a major step-change in his willingness to use Russian conventional military power overtly. It would cost Russia enormous sums of money and likely many thousands of casualties and destroyed vehicles and aircraft. Even in victory, such an invasion would impose on Russian President Vladimir Putin the requirement to reconstruct Ukraine and then establish a new government and security forces there more suitable for his objectives.“

Bottom line: “We continue to assess for all these reasons that Putin does not, in fact, intend to invade unoccupied Ukraine this winter despite the continued build-up of Russian forces in preparation to do so.”

DUELING SECRETARIES: Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on NBC Sunday arguing that the Biden administration is taking a tough line with Putin, while over on Fox, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was blasting Biden for projecting weakness.

“But I got to tell you, after now almost 11 months, we have seen debacle after debacle,” Pompeo said in the interview with Maria Bartiromo. Don't forget that the Russians shut down a pipeline in the Southeastern part of the United States, denying gas to Americans, and the Biden administration did nothing. It then tried to build out a pipeline in Northern Europe to allow the Russians to control European energy, and this administration gave them a free pass. And now Russia is mounting troops on the Ukrainian border, and the president has mere words for them.”

On NBC, Blinken told Chuck Todd, “President made very clear to President Putin, what I’ve made very clear to Foreign Minister [Segey] Lavrov, my counterpart, is that we are looking at and we are prepared to take the kinds of steps we’ve refrained from taking in the past that would have massive consequences for Russia.”

“President Putin has to make his calculations. He has to decide ultimately what’s in Russia’s interests. He’ll make those calculations. We’ve been very clear about what will follow if he renews his aggression on Ukraine,” Blinken said. “We’re looking to see de-escalation, we’re looking to see Russia pull back forces from the border, and we’re looking to see Russia engage in good faith in diplomacy, in diplomatic dialogue with the Europeans, with Ukraine, to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and to give Ukraine its borders back.”


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Iran allegedly preparing for space launch amid continued Vienna talks

Washington Examiner: China uses abandoned NASA design to develop hypersonic missile engine

AP: G7 warns Russia of ‘massive’ consequences if Ukraine invaded

AP: North Korea’s Kim at critical crossroads decade into rule

Air Force Magazine: Ukraine Says It Can Deter a Russian Invasion With Air Defenses; NATO Calls for ‘Adjustments’

New York Times: A Floating Powder Keg, For a Few Hours at Least

Reuters: Taiwan Says Confident Chinese Invasion Would Be Very Hard

Reuters: Blinken Heads To Southeast Asia To Deepen Cooperation On China Pushback

South China Morning Post: China Builds Undersea Cable Bases Amid Digital Infrastructure Rivalry

Washington Post: As evacuations from Afghanistan slow to a trickle, some ‘at risk’ allies may face long road to the United States

The Drive: Dozens Of Afghan Helicopters Have Now Arrived At The U.S. Air Force’s Boneyard

Air Force Magazine: New NDAA Takes Aim at F-35 Sustainment Costs, Joint Program Office

Space News: Russia showed it can attack. Is U.S. Space Force ready to defend?

The Drive: Secret Space Force Capabilities Could Be Declassified If New Bill Becomes Law

Washington Post: Ex-colonel circulated options to stop Biden

AP: Capitol rioters’ social media posts influencing sentencings

Reuters: The curious case of a map and a disappearing Taiwan minister at U.S. democracy summit It's Official: A US Marine Corps F-35C Squadron is Aircraft Carrier Ready How the US Marine Corps Is Preparing for a War with China Opinion: How to Counter the Chinese Missile Threat: More Missile Defense?

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Biden helps Putin make Minsk II mincemeat out of Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Opinion: The never-ending US military mission to Iraq

Forbes: Opinion: Finland’s Selection Of F-35 Confirms Its Status As The Free World’s Fighter



8:30 a.m. (new time) — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Aerospace Nation event with Gen. Jeffrey  Harrigian, commander, U.S. Air Forces, Europe, Africa, Allied Air Command, and director, Joint Air Power Competence Center. Moderated by retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

9:30 a.m. — Foundation for Defense of Democracies pre-recorded conversation “Securing the High Ground,” with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.

12 p.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center forum: ‘National Nuclear Security Administration, the Cornerstone of U.S. Strategic Nuclear Deterrence,” with Mark Anderson, assistant deputy administrator research, development, test and evaluation, National Nuclear Security Administration; E. Michael Campbell, director, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, University of Rochester; Mark Herrmann, deputy program director, fundamental weapons physics, program director for NIF/WCI Integration, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Kimberly Scott, program director, Office of Experimental Sciences,Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Daniel Sinars, director, Pulsed Power Sciences Center, Sandia National Laboratories

12 p.m. — Association of the U.S. Army “Noon Report” webinar “Growing the Force for Tomorrow’s Army Reserve,” with Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo, senior enlisted leader for the Army Reserve.

1 p.m. — McCain Institute virtual discussion with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

2 p.m. — Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress virtual book discussion on “Building a Defense Strategy to Confront China,” with The Strategy of Denial author Elbridge Colby co-founder and principal, The Marathon Initiative; former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development.

2 p.m. — CSIS International Security Program online event “Detect and Understand: Modernizing Intelligence for the Gray Zone,” with Michael Vickers, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence; and Jake Harrington, intelligence fellow in the CSIS International Security Program

4 p.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “Securing the energy and critical infrastructure sectors from cyberattacks,” with former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

7:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies and Joongang Ilbo newspaper virtual 11th annual Joongang Ilbo-CSIS Forum on "The Biden Era and Korea's Global Strategy,” with former South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se; and former South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Song Min-soon.


8:45 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual debate: "China and Afghanistan," with Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.; and Zhou Bo, senior fellow at Tsinghua University's Center for International Strategy and Security

9:30 a.m. — Heritage Foundation virtual press briefing: ‘A Pivotal Time For Ukraine,” with Luke Coffey, director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy; Alexis Mrachek, research associate, Russia and Eurasia, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy; Nile Gardiner, director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow.

11 a.m. 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Virginia — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association discussion on "The Path Forward: Realizing the DoD Joint Cloud,” with Mike Madsen, strategic engagement director at the Defense Innovation Unit; Navy Cmdr. Thomas Parker, deputy assistant chief of staff for innovation and capabilities at the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet; Renata Spinks, Marine Corp Cyber Space Command CTO; Sharon Woods, executive director of the Defense Information Systems Agency's Cloud Computing Program Office; Army Col. Benjamin Ring, applied research and development director at the U.S. Cyber Command

1 p.m. — Center for a New American Security conversation with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger; and Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the CNAS Defense Program.

1 p.m. — McCain Institute virtual discussion: "Improving NATO's Public Image and Building Awareness of the MDM (Mis-, Dis- & Mal-Information) Threat,” with Laura Thornton, director and senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund; Jamie Fly, president and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and Harry Nedelcu, former analyst with the Policy Planning Unit at NATO

1:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies and Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group webcast: “Building Apollo's Arsenal: Building Future Government-Bioeconomy Partnership through Lessons Learned from Covid-19,” with Tara O'Toole, senior fellow and executive vice president at In-Q-Tel; Chris Fall, vice president for applied sciences, The MITRE Corporation; Cynthia Cook, director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and senior fellow, International Security Program, CSIS; and Rose Butchart, associate fellow, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group, CSIS

3 p.m. — Atlantic Council webinar: “Charting course: Next steps for maritime cybersecurity with allies and partners,” with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine; Rear Adm. John Mauger, assistant commandant of the Coast Guard for prevention policy; Trey Herr, director of Cyber Statecraft Initiative in the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security; Gary Kessler, nonresident senior fellow for the Cyber Statecraft Initiative in the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security; Josie Long, cyber security consultant at MITRE; and Sean Kline, director of maritime affairs at the Chamber of Shipping of America


8 a.m. — Potomac Officers Club virtual Air Force Information Technology Modernization and Digital Transformation Forum, with Air Force Deputy CIO Winston Beauchamp delivers remarks

12 p.m. — Washington Space Business Roundtable virtual discussion: “The Second Year Anniversary of the Space Force: Progress to Date, Outstanding Challenges, and Role of Space Industry,” with Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, director of staff at U.S. Space Force


10 a.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace virtual discussion: “Is There a Future for Nuclear Arms Control?" with Anya Fink, research scientist at the CNA Russia Studies Program; Thomas MacDonald, fellow at the CEIP Nuclear Policy Program; and James Acton, co-director of the CEIP Nuclear Policy Program

11 a.m. — Heritage Foundation virtual discussion: “ Vaccine Mandates Will Hamstring the Defense Industrial Base,” with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.; Wes Hallman, senior vice president for strategy and policy at the National Defense Industrial Association; and John Luddy, vice president of national security policy at the Aerospace Industries Association

1:30 p.m. — CSIS Stephenson Ocean Security Project livestream event: “Ocean Security Forum 2021,” with Carlos Del Toro, secretary of the Navy; Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard; Monica Medina, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international; Beth Lowell, vice president for U.S. campaigns, Oceana; Paul Woods, chief innovation officer, Global Fishing Watch; Duncan Copeland, executive director, Trygg Mat Tracking; Jared Dunnmon, technical director for AI and machine learning, DOD Defense Innovation Unit; Ian Ralby, CEO, I.R. Consilium; and Whit Saumweber, director, Stephenson Ocean Security Project


1 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “China's Sphere of Influence in the Indo-Pacific,” with former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell; and Graham Allison, professor of government at Harvard University


Arlington National Cemetery — National Wreaths Across America Day to place wreaths on the more than 253,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery to honor of the nation’s fallen service members and their families. @ArlingtonNatl


“A full-scale Russian invasion of unoccupied Ukraine would be by far the largest, boldest, and riskiest military operation Moscow has launched since the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan ... more complex than the US wars against Iraq … would cost Russia enormous sums of money and likely many thousands of casualties … We continue to assess for all these reasons that Putin does not, in fact, intend to invade unoccupied Ukraine this winter.”

From “Putin's Likely Course of Action in Ukraine,” analysis by the Institute for the study of War.