The Oklahoma National Guard said that it will defy the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate. It said that it won’t require any of its members to undergo COVID-19 vaccination.
This is in direct opposition to an earlier August 9 order by the Pentagon. It required all members of the US military to complete vaccinations for COVID.
Oklahoma National Guard Members Not Required To Vaccinate Against COVID-19
New Adjutant General Thomas Mancino issued an order last Thursday. He said that the Oklahoma National Guard won’t require members without federal mobilization to get COVID-19 vaccines.
The leadership will not take any negative administrative or legal action against Oklahoma guardsmen who refused to get vaccines. However, Oklahoma’s command will continue to process federal vaccine waivers in accordance with the Department of Defense policy.
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Republican Governor Kevin Stitt recently appointed Mancino to replace Adjutant General Michael Thompson, who served as the state’s top Guardsmen since 2017. In contrast with Mancino, Thompson supported vaccination for a majority of their members.
‘This is Not Anti-Vaccine’
“This policy is not anti-vaccine. I and the Governor are both vaccinated,” Mancino said in a statement published on Saturday. “I encourage all our Oklahoma Guard Members to get vaccinated if they choose to do so.
We want to educate and inform our Soldiers and Airmen so that they can make an informed decision regarding the DoD Vaccine Mandate.”
Mancino explained that under Title 32, Congress established a dual framework for the National Guard. The state will receive federal funding for the Guardsmen.
In return, troops need to be made available to the federal government when called to active duty by the sitting President.
Under Title 32, the Oklahoma National Guard takes orders from the Governor. However, when mobilized by the President under Title 10, the Oklahoma National Guard will take their orders from the US President.
Title 32 Says Oklahoma National Guard To Follow The Governor
“Failing to follow the Governor’s lawful orders while on Title 32 would be both illegal, unethical, and against our sworn oaths. Nothing in this order prevents anyone from taking the vaccine,” Mancino said.
“Also, nothing in his order eliminates the Federal Requirement. The Governor is hoping for Federal Relief from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and in the interim has granted state relief from this requirement.”
Earlier, Stitt issued an executive order that opposed Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. “Vaccines work and are effective, but they should not be mandated by any government to free citizens,” he said.
Earlier this month, Stitt had also asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to suspend a vaccine mandate for Oklahoma National Guard members.
He noted that 800 soldiers, or 10% of the guard, have yet to take their COVID-19 vaccines or have no intention to do so.
For The Department of Defense’s Decisions
“The Governor’s request is with Secretary Austin for decision,” Mancino added. In addition, he said that the National Guard Bureau indicated it will review the state’s position.
“The proper venue for the resolution of these issues is the Governor’s office, Congress, and the Federal Executive branch. Not the court of public opinion in the press or on social media,” Mancino said.
Mancino overruled Thompson’s previous orders, which included penalties for Guardsmen who refuse vaccinations.
This includes the inability to mobilize or receive training at federal military installations. He noted that Stitt’s order prevented the Oklahoma Military Department from requiring state employees to vaccinate or to show proof.
Watch the KFOR Oklahoma’s News 4 video reporting that Oklahoma National Guard does about-face on vaccine mandate:
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