FACT CHECK: Have U.S. Military Officers Received Letters From Lloyd Austin Instructing Them To ‘Surrender Or Else’?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook purports 65 U.S. military officers have received letters from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin instructing them to “surrender or else.”

Verdict: False

The claim stems from an article published on a satirical website. A Department of Defense spokesperson denied the claim.

Fact Check:

Austin said he wants to keep a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place for members of the U.S. military, despite Republicans asking President Joe Biden to remove it, The Associated Press reported. Austin rejected Republicans’ claims that the mandate hurts military recruitment Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The Facebook post purports 65 U.S. military officers across all branches of the armed forces have received letters from Austin instructing them to “surrender or else.” The post further claims U.S. Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger, U.S. Army Major Gen. Richard E. Angle, and U.S. Army Col. J.D. Keirsey are among those who received letters accusing them of treason.

The claim is false. There are no credible news reports suggesting U.S. military officers, including Berger, Angle, and Keirsey, received such a letter from Austin. Likewise, the claim is not mentioned on the Department of Defense, Marine Corps, or Army’s respective websites or verified social media pages. The White House also has not publicly commented on the claim.

A keyword search reveals the claim stems from a Dec. 6 article published by the website “Real Raw News.” A disclaimer included on the site’s “About Us” page indicates it contains “humor, parody, and satire.” (RELATED: Does This Video Show Military Robots ‘Ready For War’?)

“This is false,” a Department of Defense spokesperson said of the claim in an email to Check Your Fact.

Check Your Fact has also contacted Marine Corps and Army spokespersons for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

This is not the first time a satirical claim has circulated online. Check Your Fact previously debunked a post purporting top military leaders had apologized for questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election following the 2022 midterm elections.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter


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