The incoming commander of the Oklahoma National Guard is telling the Department of Defense they will not comply with any COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino has been announced as the new adjutant general to the Oklahoma National Guard, however he has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate, which is expected.
On November 2, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt formally asked the Department of Defense to not enforce the mandate on the states Army and Air National Guard members because 10% of the state’s troops “had refused the vaccine.”
Mancino has issued a memo to all Oklahoma national guard units informing them that he will not impose the the DOD’s vaccination mandate.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the DOD is aware of Mancino’s memo and Stitt’s letter and “will respond to the governor appropriately.”
“That said, Secretary Austin believes a vaccinated force is a more ready force,” said Kirby. “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.”
Mancino is scheduled to take command on January 15, 2022 however just a day after stepping in for the former adjutant general Mancino issued a policy memo.
📝READ: One of first actions taken by new Oklahoma National Guard Adjutant Gen. Thomas Mancino: rescind the #COVID19 vaccine requirement for Guardsmen.
— Dan Snyder (@DanSnyderFOX25) November 12, 2021
“No Oklahoma Guardsman will be required to take the COVID-19 Vaccine,” Mancino wrote. The incoming general also stated that Stitt is the force’s “lawful Commander in Chief” when not mobilized by the federal government.
Stitt is preparing to have a legal show down with the Biden Administration. According to title 32, the section of US Code pertaining to the National Guard, federal funding can only be withdrawn for failing to comply with the lawful order of a dually elected civilian, like the governor.
Air Force Maj. Matthew Murphy, a National Guard Bureau spokesperson said that Stitt’s showdown is in a “legal gray area.”
“This is where the difference between Title 32 and Title 10 becomes a real becomes an issue,” Murphy told Stars & Stripes. “In most instances, the guardsmen are in their Title 32 capacity, which means they’re on state duty. In order to be federalized, they have to be on Title 10.”
Governor Stitt is drawing a line in the sand.