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The Army announced Friday that unvaccinated National Guard members and reservists who missed the deadline to be fully-vaccinated by Thursday will not be allowed to participate in federally-funded drills or training, and will not be paid or receive retirement credit.

“Beginning July 1, 2022, members of the Army National Guard and U.

S. Army Reserve who have refused the lawful [Department of Defense] COVID-19 vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption may not participate in federally funded drills and training and will not receive pay or retirement credit,” the Army said in a press release.

The number of unvaccinated Army National Guard soldiers across the country could be up to 40,000, according to a recent Associated Press report, though that includes roughly half who have applied for exemptions and are awaiting responses.

Still, Army officials acknowledge that 40,000 remain unvaccinated, that could affect military readiness or National Guard missions such as the ongoing one at the nation’s southern border.

“When you’re looking at, 40,000 soldiers that potentially are in that unvaccinated category, absolutely there’s readiness implications on that and concerns associated with that,” Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard told the AP. “That’s a significant chunk.”

At least 18,000 National Guard and reserve soldiers who have flatly refused will be immediately affected. While the National Guard forces may still be activated and paid by their state, they could be kicked out eventually, the Army said. The Army said in its press release:

Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands. In the future, Soldiers who continue to refuse the vaccination order without an exemption may be subject to additional adverse administrative action, including separation.

About 13% of National Guard troops and 12% of Army Reserve soldiers are not fully-vaccinated, despite the Army’s deadline for part-time soldiers passing on June 30, 2022.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August 2021 ordered all service members to be vaccinated or face discharge from the military.

So far, only 1,148 active duty Army soldiers have been discharged, though thousands more are expected to be discharged as more exemption requests are denied or temporary accommodations expire.

The Army claimed its policy “affords every Soldier the opportunity to request an exemption, such as for medical or religious concerns,” and that each request is reviewed “on an individual basis.”

However, only 19 out of nearly 6,000 religious exemption requests have been approved in the Army so far.

Republican lawmakers say across all the military services, religious exemption requests are only being  granted to service members who are already planning to leave the military.

The deadline for active-duty Army soldiers to be vaccinated passed in December, but deadlines for the Army National Guard and Reserve were set later.


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What to know about government classification of secrets

Washington (CNN)The US government has a formal system of protecting information that, if disclosed, could hurt national security.

The system can apply to documents regarding intelligence activities, foreign relations, military plans and programs for safeguarding nuclear materials, for example. By classifying information, the government restricts who can see the documents and where he or she can see them. The Justice Department recently removed some classified documents from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence while executing a search warrant for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other crimes.
    Here are key things to know about how the classification system works.
      What are the levels of classification?Read MoreThere are three basic levels of classification, based on the damage that could be done to national security if the information was leaked. Top Secret
        This is the highest level of classification. Information is classified as Top Secret if it "reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security," according to a 2009 executive order that describes the classification system. A subset of Top Secret documents known as SCI, or sensitive compartmented information, is reserved for certain information derived from intelligence sources. Access to an SCI document can be even further restricted to a smaller group of people with specific security clearances.Some of the materials recovered from Trump's Florida home were marked as Top Secret SCI. SecretInformation is classified as Secret if the information is deemed to be able to cause "serious damage" to national security if revealed.ConfidentialConfidential is the least sensitive level of classification, applied to information that is reasonably expected to cause "damage" to national security if disclosed.What might be classified as a Top Secret document?"The difference between Secret and Top Secret is quite significant," said Philip Mudd, a CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA analyst.Nuclear codes could be classified as Top Secret, for example, as well as information from an especially sensitive human source.But there are even more narrow classifications within the Top Secret designation. For example, intercepted communications may be classified as Top Secret SCI.Another category of sensitive information within either Top Secret or Secret documents is known as an SAP, or special access program. Not everyone with a Top Secret security clearance may be privy to the information in an SAP.These higher level designations further restrict who can see the information and where it can be viewed. How is information classified?Certain people within the government have classification authority. For less sensitive classified material, he or she may make a judgment call about the impact the information could have on national security if disclosed. But a classification of Top Secret SCI would be automatic, said Mudd. That may be because the information would reveal a source the United States uses or a certain method of obtaining intelligence information. Who can see a Top Secret document and where?People within the government must receive security clearance to have access to certain classified documents. To receive Top Secret clearance, one must generally pass an extensive background check that digs into financial history and may include interviews of friends and family.
          Then, there may be extra security protocols involved in viewing Top Secret information. Some documents must be viewed in what's known as a SCIF, or a sensitive compartmented information facility. There are technical standards that need to be met before a room or building can be designated as a SCIF, said Mudd. Multiple locks may be required, for example, and access to the room is restricted to people with specific security clearances.

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