The newly appointed chief of the Oklahoma National Guard refuses to enforce the Department of Defense’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for troops.
Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino wrote in a note that no member of the Oklahoma National Guard will be required to be vaccinated, according to The Oklahoman, who received the note.
The memo further states that “no negative administrative or legal action will be taken” against guards refusing to be vaccinated.
Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Legler, a spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard, told the newspaper the memo is intended to allow guards to serve in the state without fear of being punished.
But “it does not provide any protection if they should need to attend a military school or training activity run by an active component or the Department of Defense,” Legler added.
The Hill has contacted the Oklahoma National Guard for further comments.
Minister of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinBiden marks Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – GOP awarded a blow in 2022, staring down at Trump-era problems GOP digs into blocking Biden diplomatic elections MORE required that all uniformed personnel be vaccinated for coronavirus in mid-September, although the deadline for doing so varies across departments.
The Air Force had until earlier this month to comply with the mandate, while Air National Guard troops and reserves have until December 12th. Meanwhile, Army reservists and National Guard troops have until June 30, 2022 to be grafted.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) announced Wednesday that he has appointed Mancino to serve as the state’s adjutant general and head of the National Guard. However, he still needs to be confirmed by the state Senate.
Stitt has been loudly against vaccine mandates; earlier this month, he wrote a letter asking Austin to suspend the mandate of members of the Oklahoma National Guard, arguing that it violates their personal freedoms.
Pentagon Press Secretary John KirbyJohn Kirby Defense & National Security – Biden marks Veterans Day The Ukrainian diplomat warns that Russia may be looking to ‘move further’ into the country Overnight Defense & National Security – Concerns over Russia grow MORE told The Hill in a statement that the department is aware of Mancino’s note and Stitt’s letter, adding that the agency will “respond appropriately to the governor.”
“That said, Minister Austin believes a vaccinated force is a clearer force,” Kirby said. “That’s why he has ordered mandatory vaccines for the total force, and that includes our National Guard, which contributes significantly to national missions at home and abroad.”