Oklahoma Guard Chief Tells Refusers Vaccine Prepare for “End of Career Federal Action”
Oklahoma National Guard leadership has acknowledged that its fight with the federal government over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate could ultimately lead to “federal career-ending action” for the troops.
Brig. General Thomas Mancino, the senior officer of the Oklahoma Guard, issued a statement Thursday which opened with an energetic defense of the military under his responsibility exercising their “personal responsibility” and “the right not to take the vaccine”.
However, the message quickly rotated as Mancino began to note that his authority and Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt was limited.
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“Anyone exercising personal responsibility and deciding not to take the vaccine should realize that the potential for late-career federal action laying bare [sic] a pro-ruling tribunal, legislative intervention or policy change is present, âMancino wrote in the statement.
State National Guard formations are unique in the military in that they have a dual obligation: both state and federal. When under their governor’s authority, the Guard is said to operate under Title 32. However, when deployed by the federal government, they operate under so-called Title 10 commands and are commanded by the President.
âThe governor used his Title 32 authority to grant you a limited safe area within his authority so that you would not be subject to Title 10 negative actions for not taking the vaccine,â Mancino explained.
This distinction – which an individual member ultimately takes orders from and when – has been the crux of the struggle between Oklahoma and the Pentagon. That fight now includes a lawsuit launched by Stitt and threats from the Pentagon not to pay.
In one of the last paragraphs of his post, Mancino noted that he is “fully vaccinated, as well as the booster. ”
âI believe the vaccine to be safe and effective against Covid-19 based on the millions of doses administered,â he wrote.
In his post, Mancino admitted that, ultimately, “continued service in the National Guard will require ties to Title 10 authority.”
âSuch connections, including training events, schools and mobilisations, will eventually force you to leave this safe port and submit to Title 10 authorities. This is the reality,â her statement said.
The growing politicization of the National Guard means that Oklahoma guards aren’t the only troops stuck between state and federal posturing. A Stitt spokesman told Military.com last week at least five other Republican governors are considering similar measures.
While Stitt and other governors may be anxious to test the limits of their authority against the Pentagon and the rest of the federal government, Mancino’s message makes it clear that the fight could have consequences for members of the Guard.
âIt is important that you do not confuse my vigorous defense of the governor’s rights under Title 32 with a guarantee that you will not suffer the consequences of the authority of Title 10,â Mancino wrote. “I don’t have such power.”
Related: National Guard stuck amid internal political wrangling, and it’s getting worse
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