In an act of defiance that will surely elicit a severe response from the Pentagon, the new commander of the Oklahoma National Guard has told troops that they do not have to comply with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, a strong rebuke to a requirement of dubious constitutionality.
On Thursday, Army General Thomas Mancino, who was just appointed as the Oklahoma National Guard Adjutant General by Governor Kevin Stitt, issued a memo advising members that they would not be required to be jabbed and would not be subjected to punishment for their decision. In mid-September, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated that all uniformed personnel get vaccinated for the coronavirus.
In the memo which was obtained by The Oklahoman, Gen. Mancino wrote that “No negative administrative or legal action will be taken against Guardsmen who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine,” a defense of the right of Americans to make their own personal medical choices, even those who are serving in the military.”
Mancino was elevated to the position after Stitt unexpectedly jettisoned former Adjutant General Michael Thompson who had served in the position since 2017 and who was completely onboard with pushing the vaccines, leading some to question whether the Republican governor’s decision was rooted in politics.
Happy to get the booster shot! Appreciate IMMY Labs for being so efficient. 5 minute process – well done. pic.twitter.com/xvIof2yzzZ
— MG Mike Thompson (@OKTAG_26) October 28, 2021
According to The Oklahoman, “Stitt’s office has denied that Thompson was replaced due to his opinion on vaccine mandates, and said the change in command was in the works since October.”
Thompson confirmed that he had been asked to resign by the governor and had reached an agreement to stay until January 15, 2022 but the timetable was advanced. “He is the boss,” the outgoing commander said in remarks reported by Tulsa World, “That is his style. At the end of the day, nobody can tell him differently.”
In remarks reported by The Oklahoman, Lt. Col. Geoff Legler who is a spokesman for the Guard said, “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,”
He added, “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.”
On November 2, Gov. Stitt sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting that the vaccine mandate for the Oklahoma National Guard be suspended, stating that the mandate “violates the personal freedoms of many Oklahomans as it asks them to potentially sacrifice their personal beliefs in order to not lose their jobs,” the administration has been inflexible when it comes to religious exemptions to the unprecedented vaccine push.
President Biden's federal vaccine mandate risks the number of guardsmen our state has to help in an emergency.
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) November 2, 2021
The Pentagon responded to Adjutant General Mancino’s decision with a thinly veiled threat against Stitt, one of the Republican governors who continues to bedevil Biden and his squadron of White House radicals.
“We are aware of the memo issued by the Oklahoma Adjutant General regarding COVID vaccination for Guardsmen and the governor’s letter requesting exemption. We will respond to the governor appropriately,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Axios.
Biden’s vaccine mandates are currently on shaky legal ground and the administration which faces multiple lawsuits over their totalitarian actions is still reeling after a federal appeals court ruled to uphold a stay on the implementation of the national employer mandated that is to be enforced by OSHA, a serious blow to the agenda of the nation’s 46th president and a sign of the growing resistance to his authoritarian style of governance.
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