Adjutant General Thomas Mancino commands the Sooner State’s Army and Air National Guard. A November 11 memo from Mancino said “no negative administrative or legal action will be taken,” according to The Oklahoman.
The “lawful commander” of the reserve units is Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, according to the memo. Biden is only the commander of the National Guard if he mobilizes the troops for federal service, such as for deployment or patrolling the border.
“I hereby order that no Oklahoma Guardsmen be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine, notwithstanding any other Federal requirement,” the memo, posted on Twitter, says.
Mancino made the decision the same week he took over the command post from Adjutant General Michael Thompson, a supporter of troop vaccination.
The Department of Defense plans to oppose the Oklahoma National Guard memo.
“It is a lawful order for National Guardsmen to receive the Covid vaccine. It is a lawful order,” DoD spokesperson John Kirby said Monday at a press conference.
“Refusing to do that, absent an approved exemption, puts them in the same potential [for disciplinary action] as active-duty members who refuse the vaccine,” Kirby said.
“The secretary of Defense has the authority to require these vaccines for all members of the force, including the National Guard … even in a Title 32 status,” Kirby said. “Because when they’re called up for their monthly training, they’re still federally funded.”
The Biden administration has backed down somewhat from a strict enforcement of the jab mandate. Thousands of U.S. Air Force members have refused to get jabbed with a COVID shot as of the November 1 deadline for the first shot. The original federal vaccine mandate for federal employees is that they must be fully jabbed by November 22.
The COVID two-dose regimen must take place at least 21 days apart, meaning that most people would have to get a first jab by November 1.
However, the thousands of non-jabbed Air Force members represent about 4 percent of the service.
“[Defense] Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III had instructed military leaders to take steps short of terminating troops who aren’t vaccinated before considering discharges,” Roll Call reported November 2.
Federal defense contractors warn of vaccination requirements
The liberal-leaning D.C. publication said that defense contractors also have been pushing back against the mandate, warning of personnel shortages.
The firing of “even a small percentage of skilled workers could have damaging effects on their business and on America’s arsenal,” Roll Call reported.
Biden administration guidance released at the beginning of November gave some flexibility to federal contractors in how they handle employees who choose not to get jabbed.
“A covered contractor should determine the appropriate means of enforcement with respect to its employee at a covered contractor workplace who refuses to be vaccinated and has not been provided, or does not have a pending request for, an accommodation,” the guidance said. “This may include the covered contractor using its usual processes for enforcement of workplace policies, such as those addressed in the contractor’s employee handbook or collective bargaining agreements.”
Only “continued noncompliance” should lead to termination.
Employees of federal contractors have until December 8 to be fully jabbed.