Recently appointed Oklahoma National Guard Adjutant General Thomas Mancino is refusing to enforce the Defense Department’s vaccine mandate on Oklahoma’s National Guard troops, according to a report.
According to a Thursday memo obtained by the Oklahoman, Mancino ordered that no member of Oklahoma’s National Guard will be required to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Moreover, the memo stated that “no negative administrative or legal action will be taken” against guard members who choose not to get inoculated against the virus, according to the Oklahoman.
Lt. Col. Geoff Legler is a spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard and spoke to the outlet regarding the memorandum.
“The clarified policy on COVID vaccinations for Oklahoma Army and Air National Guardsmen reflects the governor’s ability to assert his command authority over the men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard while they are within the state’s borders,” Legler stated.
The clarification will allow our unvaccinated Guardsmen to continue to serve in Oklahoma without any negative repercussion, but it does not provide any protection should they need to attend any military school or training activity run by an active duty component or the Department of Defense.
Mancino’s move came just a day after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed him to the position of adjutant general in replacement of now-former Adjutant General Michael Thompson. While leading the National Guard in the Sooner State, Thompson was a vocal advocate for vaccines, according to the Oklahoman.
The Hill reports that Mancino is yet to be confirmed by Oklahoma’s state Senate.
In late August, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a vaccine mandate for all U.S. servicemembers, as Breitbart News reported.
Gov. Stitt sent Austin a letter on November 2, requesting the defense secretary reconsider “the policy of mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all national guardsmen in Oklahoma” and stated that the mandate is in violation of many Oklahomans’ “personal freedoms,” according to the Hill.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby spoke with the Hill regarding Mancino’s memo and Stitt’s letter, stating the department will “respond to the governor appropriately.”
“That said, Secretary Austin believes that a vaccinated force is a more ready force,” Kirby added. “That is why he has ordered mandatory vaccines for the total force, and that includes our National Guard, who contribute significantly to national missions at home and abroad.”